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November 21, 2013

Fantasy Freestyle

The Fantasy Fallout of the Fielder-Kinsler Swap

by Bret Sayre

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The fantasy impact of the Prince Fielder-Ian Kinsler trade go well beyond the two players involved, so we’re going to tackle its effects one-by-one and with lots of arrows. Who doesn’t love arrows? Let’s start with the Rangers’ side:

Prince Fielder

It’s not a significant jump in fantasy value, but Fielder should enjoy hitting in Texas slightly more than Detroit—less due to the scenery than the depth of the lineup. Fielder hasn’t scored more than 83 runs in the past two seasons, despite a .387 on-base percentage. With a better crop of hitters behind him in the new-look Texas lineup, expect that number to go up in 2014. He’s still not a top-15 player, as he was coming into the 2013 season, but overweighting his down year might be a huge mistake for fantasy owners.

Jurickson Profar

The biggest winner in this trade from a fantasy perspective is Profar, who now is a virtual lock to start the season as the Rangers’ second baseman. With the job in hand, he becomes an immediate top-10 option at the position, despite his struggles in sporadic 2013 playing time. Profar has the potential to be the no. 3 fantasy second baseman in baseball, behind Robinson Cano and Dustin Pedroia, as soon as 2014. And the odds only get better after that.

Mitch Moreland

It’s tempting to put a sideways arrow here, but it points down because the Rangers are unlikely to be finished after this trade. If the roster were frozen right now, Moreland would still stand to get around 400-450 at-bats in 2014, but Moreland owners should be a bit nervous. On the bright side, if the Rangers do sign his replacement, they are likely to trade him to a team that will give him playing time.

And on the Tigers’ side of the equation:

Ian Kinsler (in 2014)

It seems like you can’t throw a rock these days without hitting someone who’s citing Ian Kinsler’s home/road splits; the second baseman is a career .242/.312/.399 hitter away from Arlington. With that said, Detroit is not a bad place for right-handers to hit—despite a below-average home run rate, Comerica Park is above average for righty runs and extra-base hits. Kinsler will still likely be the no. 5 second baseman for fantasy heading into the 2014 season, but his days of being in the top three were over even before this trade.

Ian Kinsler (beyond 2014)

The reason this trade is a net win for Kinsler owners in keeper/dynasty leagues is that there was not a high-percentage chance that he would keep his second base eligibility past 2014 if he had stayed in Texas. The move to Detroit, however, allows him the opportunity to keep it through the end of his contract. Kinsler would have taken a huge hit in value were he to have been only outfield or (gasp) first-base eligible for 2015 and beyond.

Nick Castellanos

The other Tiger who likely stands to benefit positionally in fantasy is Castellanos, who was moved off third base last season and into left field. With Miguel Cabrera now moving over to first base, the door is open for Castellanos to move back to the hot corner and take the Opening Day job. The Rookie of the Year frontrunner talk is a little premature, but he should be a top-20 third baseman in 2014, with top-10 potential at his peak.

Miguel Cabrera

Don’t overthink this one. While the third-base eligibility was nice for a couple of seasons, Cabrera is the type of player who transcends position in fantasy. He’d be the second-best fantasy option for 2014 even if you could play him only at a utility spot.

Andy Dirks

It would still be somewhat surprising to see the Tigers go into 2014 with Dirks as their starting left fielder, but the chances of that being the case certainly went up with this trade. There’s more fantasy upside in his bat than he showed in 2013, and he could be a sneaky endgame pick in deeper leagues.

All Tigers Pitchers

Things were already looking up with Jose Iglesias replacing Jhonny Peralta, but adding Kinsler and having Cabrera replace Fielder at first base should be benefit the Tigers’ staff at least incrementally—especially ground ball artists like Doug Fister and Rick Porcello. Going from Cabrera to Castellanos at the hot corner could also save a couple of runs, but Castellanos was moved to the outfield for a reason, and it may not be pretty.

Bret Sayre is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Bret's other articles. You can contact Bret by clicking here

15 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

BP staff member Paul Sporer
BP staff

There are no guarantees of Cabrera moving back to first this year.

Nov 21, 2013 05:09 AM

And there are no guarantees that Profar and Castellanos will win starting jobs, but all three sure seem likely.

BP would be pretty boring if you analyzed only those events that were guaranteed to happen.

Nov 21, 2013 07:05 AM
rating: 2
Bryan Cole

And I'm sure he'll retain 3B eligibility for this year at a number of sites regardless.

Nov 21, 2013 09:49 AM
rating: 0
Jack Thomas

Both TEX & DET should be better teams overall after the trade (Assuming Profar & Castellanos produce close to what was expected).

Nov 21, 2013 05:23 AM
rating: 0

Money aside, since I don't pay the bills, I think Texas benefits greater with this deal. Kinsler had to be first choice to move although it appeared they were going to give up Profar to get something done. Prince is still young enough to have a huge year or more in him. Kinsler, while being a defensive upgrade for Detroit and likely a considerable upgrade at leadoff is on downside of career.

Nov 21, 2013 06:30 AM
rating: 0

"overweighting" his down year? Hilarious on purpose or by accident?

Nov 21, 2013 06:58 AM
rating: 0

About presentation: it would be nice to have the up/down/sideways arrows be different colors.

Nov 21, 2013 07:27 AM
rating: -1

Rougned Odor's stock's probably up too, though he won't be ready in 2014. Rosenthal's reporting that the Rangers may not be done moving middle infielders.

Nov 21, 2013 07:31 AM
rating: 0

No. 3 fantasy 2B behind Cano and Pedroia? There's a pretty strong case for Matt Carpenter and Kipnis ahead of Pedroia, especially in dynasty leagues.

Nov 21, 2013 07:44 AM
rating: 2
BP staff member Bret Sayre
BP staff

There is absolutely a good case for Kipnis over Pedroia in dynasty leagues, though I was just talking about for 2014 (and as of right now, Pedroia will be my #2 second baseman in redraft formats). Carpenter is in that next tier down from Pedroia and Kipnis for me, both in redraft and dynasty leagues.

Nov 21, 2013 11:58 AM

Really? He led baseball in runs scored and was 34 runs better than the next 2b (36% more!). He led second basemen in AVG, which IMO is the hardest category for which to find contributors. Sure, no SB worth noting, and maybe the scarcity there puts him down a tier, but entering his age-28 season, I've got him right next to Pedroia, Kipnis and everyone else not named Cano.

Nov 21, 2013 13:55 PM
rating: 0
BP staff member Bret Sayre
BP staff

I don't expect him to match either the average or the runs scored from 2013 going forward. Projecting Carpenter for anything more than a .300 average and 100 runs scored (still fantastic numbers) is likely to be a losing proposition, and when you skim that excess off the top, you get a very good fantasy second baseman, but not someone who is quite in that class. And in dynasty leagues, he gets a slight move down because of the likelihood he moves out on the defensive spectrum this year or next and loses that eligibility.

Nov 21, 2013 16:39 PM

Even if you factor in regression for Carpenter (and I think we all do to varying extents), it's worth noting that his .381 wOBA (147 wRC+!) was better than any season Pedroia has posted in his career. By wRC+, Steamer favours Carpenter next year by a considerable margin (131 to 116 for Pedroia). Everyone talks about Carp's OBP and R, but the dude also led baseball in doubles this year with a hefty 55, so there's more power here than the HR column indicates. He's a line drive machine and a very good bet to hit .300 more years than not.

Nov 22, 2013 09:47 AM
rating: 0

Hints that Castellanos is a poor-fielding third baseman? New to me. I thought his defense earned positive reviews when he was in AA, and the move to the OF was because he was blocked by Cabrera. It was the stick in AAA that kept him from MLB, I thought.

Nov 21, 2013 09:03 AM
rating: 0
BP staff member Bret Sayre
BP staff

His arm is strong, but Castellanos never projected as anything more than an average defensive third baseman. And that's in a best case scenario. The most likely outcome is that he's a fringy defender at the hot corner, but his bat makes it worth keeping him there.

Nov 21, 2013 11:54 AM
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