I still remember where I was four years ago when news of the Prince Fielder trade broke. I was on a friend’s couch when Twitter suddenly erupted. I was breathless with excitement, shock, and uncertainty.
Prince Fielder — whose behemoth contract had seemed impossible to drop — had been traded to the Texas Rangers for their All-Star second baseman, Ian Kinsler.
The Tigers sent $30 million to the Rangers along with Fielder, who waived a partial no-trade clause in the deal. In the shuffle, the Tigers suddenly had a quality second baseman, and Miguel Cabrera was shifted back to his comfortable home at first base.
At the time, the Fielder trade felt welcome in Detroit. Fielder hadn’t made any friends among Tigers fans following the 2013 heartbreaker ALCS loss to the Boston Red Sox when he said, “It's not really tough, man. It's over. I got kids I got to take care of, I got things I got to take care of. It's over."
Tigers fans would be hard pressed to forget this ALCS gaffe as well.
At the time, Fielder felt like an albatross for the team. His contract was too expensive, and in spite of the power of his swing, he wasn’t performing to expectations. Fans wanted him gone, but it seemed like an impossible contract to move.
Until it wasn’t.
Kinsler was already 31 when the Tigers signed him, but he was also a three-time All-Star who hit .273/.349/.454 during his eight season tenure with the Rangers. It would be poor form of me not to add that he had his own history with questionable slides into third.
That toe tap, though.
Kinsler has now spent four seasons in a Tigers uniform, including a fourth stint as an All-Star, and a well deserved Gold Glove win in 2016 (that he didn’t win this year was robbery). Long story short, he has been incredible, and has become beloved by Tigers fans during his time with the team.
Fielder had his own success in Texas, becoming an All-Star in 2015, his sixth time. Unfortunately, during his 2016 season, the then 32-year old announced on August 10th that he would no longer play professional baseball. Fielder, son of baseball great Cecil Fielder, grew up around baseball, and upon being forced to quit the game due to health concerns, he got visibly emotional.
Now, leading into the 2018 season, while Ian Kinsler may be in decline, he has still been a tremendous boon to the Tigers roster for the last four seasons. If he is traded this offseason as expected, it’s still very obvious that the Tigers won the trade.
Kinsler has been a wonderful addition to the team, and I for one am thrilled to have been able to watch him over the course of the last four years.