Last night Alex Anthopoulos said this about what he’s trying to do behind the scenes on the trade market:
From our standpoint it’s a very focussed group, and a very focussed list, and some– I’d say actually a lot of them– are not out there in the media and not on the internet, and they’re harder to acquire, and the likelihood you acquire them is probably not high, but that’s what we’re trying to do.
Well… um… Prince Fielder is a name that wasn’t out there– mostly because, after a season in which he didn’t hit quite as well as Colby Rasmus (even by league- and park-adjusted wRC+), the $24-million per year he’s owed for the next seven seasons, totalling $168-million, made him look pretty unmovable. But move he just did!
In short: Kinsler’s defence has been going south and his last two years at the plate have produced just a 100 and 105 wRC+. However, he’s owed just $62-million for four years plus a buyout. Fielder didn’t have a great year (or playoffs), but might still kill it in Arlington, and is an improvement for Texas that neatly solves their middle infield jam. He’s owed $168-million over seven years, though. The Rangers will get money in the deal ($30-million tweets Jeff Passan), but Detroit should still save enough to extend Max Scherzer and eventually Miguel Cabrera, too. The Tigers can also now move Miguel Cabrera to first, opening a spot for their own top prospect, third baseman Nick Castellanos.
But… OK. What does this mean for the Jays?
Apart from the fact that these are certainly some very large dominoes that have just fallen, I’m not sure a whole lot just yet.
Do we really believe that either of these names– or, more specifically, either of these massive financial commitments– were in play for the Blue Jays? Probably not.
I do, however, think it’s possible that if there was a chance for Rogers to consider taking on more payroll than the $150-million we believe they’d like to, it would be, like last year, in a scenario like this– on a sellable, “name” player who could move the needle in this city more than guys like Ervin Santana or Brian McCann. Even on the open market those free agents may be better value plays, but they certainly would help the club on the field more than off it.
I’m entirely just guessing on that, of course, but frankly, at this point, any opportunity to think– even for a fleeting, pipe-dreaming second– that Rogers may be willing to invest more heavily in the 2014 Jays than we’ve set ourselves up to believe, I’m so going to take.
Thinking about it a bit more realistically I think, as I say, the deal has the possibility to kickstart the market. Any front office looking to land either of these two players, or the reportedly-available Max Scherzer, or one of the Rangers’ remaining middle infielders, can officially start looking elsewhere. The move also would appear to close off a couple of big money landing spots that guys like Mike Napoli or Omar Infante could have been waiting on word from before signing free agent deals.
I’m not sure that it’s necessarily going to immediately cause a torrent of other moves around the league, but it’s a damn fine start. Now let’s do this!