Fielder, who despite being a fan favorite and terrific power hitter, has struggled every post-season since arriving in Detroit. His 168 million dollars left on his contract was one of many six-figure sums on the Tigers’ payroll and this trade ultimately made sense, financially speaking that is. Though the specific terms of the agreement aren’t known yet, the Tigers could potentially pick up some of the money owed to Fielder.
Regardless of the specifics, this trade opens up a lot of spending money for Detroit. Kinsler, who will fill a vacant role at second base, has a much smaller amount owed to him (62 million). And not only is he a sizable amount cheaper than Fielder, Kinsler also has an above-average bat, excellent defensive skills, and an all-around passion for the game.
Besides the contract, comparing Fielder and Kinsler is almost useless. Fielder is a power-hitting first baseman — Kinsler a wily second baseman. Sure, the Tigers just cleared a boatload of cap space, but they also got rid of their first baseman who’s hit more than 100 RBIs in the past three seasons: not exactly chump change.
What the addition of Kinsler and the subtraction of Fielder really means is that the Tigers have a lot of possibilities now. One possibility is that that Miguel Cabrera will move back to first base — a position that would minimize his poor defense. Another option if the latter scenario happens is young sensation Nick Castellanos would likely move to his true position of third base (he’s been playing left field in the minors because the Tigers had both corners of the infield filled with Fielder and Cabrera).
The Tigers could also try Victor Martinez at first base and leave Cabrera at third, but that would leave a hole at designated hitter. If this were the case, they’d likely try to add another bat in free agency etc.
Overall, it looks like Dombrowski did it again. The guy has a knack for surprising people and teams, and that’s exactly what this is. Detroit went from being a ridiculously high-paid team to just being a pretty high-paid team. And with this newfound cap space, Detroit is set to offer some guys next year (cough
cough) bigger contracts than they would've otherwise.