As you've no doubt read right here on ESPNDallas.com, there's been some big news tonight:
Wow!!! Big news... We traded Prince Fielder for Ian Kinsler.
— Justin Verlander (@JustinVerlander) November 21, 2013
The blockbuster deal needs commissioner Bud Selig's approval and is pending physicals, according to reports, but it gives the Rangers the left-handed power hitter in the middle of the order that they need in 2014 and beyond.
The deal does several things:
1. Welcome to second base as a full-time job, Jurickson Profar. The highly touted prospect didn't have a spot in the Rangers infield as it was constructed, but this deal will allow him to play every day in the middle infield. There were many within the Rangers organization (and some scouts outside of it, too) that felt Profar's 2013 numbers were hurt by how he had to be a super-utility player of sorts. That won't happen now.
2. Fielder gives the Rangers a bona fide producer at first base. You'll have to go back to the first half of 2007 since that was last the case. The Mark Teixeira trade, still the most important in general manager Jon Daniels' career, gave the club some critical pieces to loft it into contention, but it left a void at first base that the club tried (unsuccessfully) to fill internally and with veterans on short-term deals.
3. Will Fielder stay at first base long? Maybe not. Mitch Moreland is also a left-handed hitter and a better defender. If the club doesn't trade Moreland, it could opt to leave him at first base and give Fielder more at-bats at designated hitter.
4. Where does Fielder hit? That's a question for manager Ron Washington. Fielder spent last season -- and most of his career -- as the cleanup hitter. Adrian Beltre spent most of the season batting fourth for the Rangers, so Fielder could bat either in front of Beltre or behind him with, perhaps, Leonys Martin or Profar leading off and Elvis Andrus in the top two spots. Alex Rios was the club's primary No. 3 hitter and he returns next season, so Washington has plenty of options.
5. What about Fielder's drop-off in numbers? Well, it's worth noting and is something to keep an eye on. Fielder's batting average (.279), home runs (25), OPS (.819) and slugging percentage (.457) were all down from 2012. The slugging, OPS and homers were the lowest of his career. Still, he has been very durable -- at least 157 games in each of his eight full seasons -- and despite the drop-off in numbers last season is still very productive and brings a big bat to this lineup.
6. Jon Daniels isn't messing around. The Rangers waited last offseason, trying to get an idea of the market on certain free agents, and, in the end, they lost out on Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli and Zack Greinke. Daniels decided to pounce early this time, securing the power hitter he knew was the top priority for the club this offseason. There's still work to do, but this is a huge first step for the front-office team.