The real baseball aspect of the trade which sent Prince Fielder to Texas and Ian Kinsler to Detroit has been covered in detail here at FanGraphs. I will give a look at how the trade affects the fantasy value of the players affected.
Jurickson Profar, Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus playing time– The three-head Texas infield monster needed to be broken up. Many people thought Kinsler would have been traded or moved to the outfield last off-season. Kinsler and Andrus now don’t have to have give up atbats to Profar. Basically, the trio would be splitting up about 1350 PA three ways (450 PA each if evenly divided). Now each hitter can hope to have over 600 each if they remain healthy. Kinsler may see a small production drop because of the new home park (92 vs 101 RHH HR PF) not being as kind to right-handed hitters, but it will be off set by the increase in plate appearances.
Nick Castellanos – The 22-year-old will likely be the Tigers third baseman to start the season. Initially, the highly touted prospect was a 3B, but when Fielder was signed and Cabrera moved back to 3B, he began playing in the outfield. Currently, Steamer projects he with .265/.313/.401 line with 12 HR and 5 SB in 531 PA. Eyeballing him into our End of Season Third Base Rankings, he belongs around the 20th to 24th round. Similar players are Chase Headley, Juan Uribe, and Nolan Arenado. I will bet he gets over drafted in re-draft league. In keepers leagues, he should go a bit higher based on future potential.
Tiger Pitchers – Both Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera should not be in the same infield defensively. While neither one was a complete failure at their position, they were as least below league average defenders. The lack of defense can be seen with the Tiger pitchers posting the 4th highest BABIP (.306) and ERA-FIP (.35) in the league.
The injured Tiger hitter – With Fielder gone, the Tigers now have a little more flexibility dealing with injuries, especially to Victor Martinez and Miguel Cabrera. If either one is hurt, they can rest as the DH while the other plays 1B. Additionally, if someone else needs a day off as the DH, Cabrera can slide back to 3B and Martinez can play 1B.
AL-only league fantasy owners of Kinsler and Fielder – Neither player is moving leagues, so everyone gets to keep their players.
Prince Fielder production – Overall, I just don’t see a ton of change for 30-year-old because of the move. Even though the Rangers line may not be as good as the Tigers (4.5 R/G vs 4.9 R/G in 2013), the Texas offense is still one of the leagues best. His home runs should be the same since he is going from a park with a 110 LH HR park factor to one with 108 value. With the small losses previously stated, he will be helped by the ability to play DH or 1B if he needs a day off or is nursing an injury.
Mitch Moreland’s playing time – The 28-year-old Moreland is a league average hitter and is not exactly the player a team wants holding down the 1B or DH position. As of now, he will still be full time DH with some time at 1B. He could easily see less plate appearances if the Rangers bring in a real DH (Morales) or sign a decent hitting catcher (McCann). As the off-season continues, Moreland’s value can only decrease.
Ian Kinsler‘s or Torii Hunter’s lineup position – Kinsler and Hunter got a decent amount of value from hitting at the top of the Texas lineup. They each got extra plate appearances and the chance to be driven in or drive in runs. I see one having to move down to the 5th sport in the Tiger’s lineup. While they may see more RBI chances, will likely see about 50 less plate appearances if they were batting 5th vice 2nd. Overall, one will just have less chances to accumulate counting stats.
Jeff, one of the authors of the fantasy baseball guide,The Process, writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won three FSWA Awards including on for his MASH series. In his first two seasons in Tout Wars, he's won the H2H league and mixed auction league. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.