Off his butt, and back in action.
That was Jon Daniels, the Texas Rangers’ baseball god on Wednesday, as a major deal went down involving two big-name players with fading résumés in both perception and reality, plus with huge contracts attached.
Second baseman Ian Kinsler, homegrown in the Rangers’ organization and once considered a cornerstone, goes to the Detroit Tigers for the heavyweight first baseman, Prince Fielder.
Call it what it is. A good deal for the Rangers. A needed deal. A left-handed power bat in Fielder, playing in a yard that can certainly reward left-handed power bats.
One winter ago, Daniels sat around, doing nothing, and had to be treated for saddle sores. His dozing eventually led to an ugly finish to the 2013 season.
But with the heavy pressure on this off-season, and with Dallas’ Ray Davis as Jon’s self-appointed ownership pal, Daniels struck quickly. Large dollars had to be shuffled, and Davis obviously didn’t blink.
With Prince coming here, and with Kinsler going to Detroit, the ramifications, and the questions, are many.
Start with the fact Daniels and his front office gang have found a permanent home for their future savior, the one and only Jurickson Profar. He now moves in at second base.
The Daniels gang has pushed Profar as the team’s rescue player the last two seasons, but the rescue never materialized, with the front office B.S. blame for that going to manager Ron Washington.
All excuses have now been eliminated. Will Profar be the Mike Trout the Daniels gang thinks he can be? No, but the talent is there to be a talented player, maybe even the player Kinsler once was.
Ian is outta here because his power numbers slipped in consecutive seasons and his contract was sizable, being owed $62 million over the next four years. Kinsler was also not receptive to moving to the outfield and making room for Profar, although he can’t be faulted for that.
Then there’s Fielder. In a trade like this, the obvious question is, why did the Tigers want Prince gone?
First, they overpaid him in January 2012 as a free-agent signee. Fielder is owed $168 million over the next seven seasons.
Second, the Tigers were an in-it-to-win-it-all organization the last two seasons. Fielder’s postseason numbers for 2012 and 2013 included one homer and two RBIs in 24 October games. Detroit found that appalling, rightfully so.
The Rangers, however, would just like to be in the postseason again. Adding a power bat, or two, or three, was an absolute necessity.
Fielder had 25 homers and 106 RBIs last season, but even that was a disappointment to the Tigers, based on the financial payout. It was the first time since 2006 that Prince hadn’t had at least 30 HRs.
The Rangers, however, had to make a gamble move for a power bat, and this was a good way to roll the dice.
Reportedly, the Tigers threw in $30 million on Fielder’s contract, although the Rangers are still on the hook for $138 million over seven years, which means some money may have to be eaten at the end of that contract, but…
The 2014 season is about right here, right now.
This is an organization worried about selling future tickets, based on how the last two seasons have ended, plus a backlash from how Davis and Daniels handled the Nolan Ryan situation.
Prince is a splash name, but a valid name for what the club needs in the way of power and fan appeal.
Speaking of needs, however, there are admittedly many in Arlington, including more bats and, despite Daniels’ denials, more rotation depth. With Kinsler and his money gone, the addition of Fielder means the payroll has added a net of some $70 million.
How that impacts additional moves in the off-season remains to be seen. Is ownership ready to step up under the leadership of Davis. Or is Davis just another billionaire who needs to see his name in the newspaper?
Regardless, Daniels took a Wednesday plunge that makes sense for the immediate future. Power bat from the left side at the Arlington yard is always the way to gamble.
And despite the body bulk Fielder hauls around, he has always been durable. Yes, Prince wore out his welcome quickly in Detroit, but there should be legit local excitement, at least now, for what he can possibly do here.
Meanwhile, don’t forget Profar now having a full-time job. This is the Daniels gang’s ace in the hole. If he fails as a regular, the gang is cooked.
Mainly, however, this trade was Daniels being aggressive again instead of gathering saddle sores while riding low in the saddle all of last winter.
The GM got off his butt because he’s feeling the pressure. That’s a good thing.