SURPRISE, Ariz. -- When Texas Rangers general manager Jon Daniels answered his cell phone the morning of Tuesday, Nov. 19, he couldn't help but get a sense of déjà vu.
Daniels' counterpoint in Detroit, the straightforward Dave Dombrowski, wanted to start the offseason with a bang. His plan: shed some salary and reorganize his infield with the bold stroke of trading slugger Prince Fielder for Ian Kinsler.
The deal would not only give Dombrowski wiggle room for the rest of the offseason, but he could also slide an All-Star in at second base and move Miguel Cabrera to first. For the Rangers, it was a chance to satisfy two major winter goals -- finding a left-handed power bat for the middle of the lineup and alleviating a logjam at middle infield.
As Daniels listened, he thought back to the day before when the idea was actually floated inside his office on the fourth floor of Globe Life Park in Arlington.
Daniels and some of his top lieutenants were tossing around scenarios in his office -- something they do often -- when assistant general manager A.J. Preller threw out the notion of trading Kinsler for Fielder, as long as the Tigers made sure to send some cash along, too. Preller had read of the Tigers' budget concerns and wondered if it was possible.
But at the time, the Rangers weren't sure if a team that played in the AL Championship Series was ready to trade one of its biggest bats.
"A.J. brought it up because it made sense," Daniels said. "After the call, we all talked about it and it didn't take long for things to get going."
Because the Rangers weren't caught off guard by Dombrowski's early proposal, they were able to act quickly.
They could also draw on the information they got from a half-day chat with Fielder at the Four Seasons Resort & Club in Las Colinas prior to the 2012 season. Then, Fielder was a free agent and the club had interest, so Daniels and a group of folks, including then-CEO Nolan Ryan, chatted with him.
"I got the impression that he would have liked to have come to Texas," said Don Welke, senior special assistant to the GM. "At one point, he looked across the table and said, 'What do you got for me, Nolan?' They were trying to sell him to us and we weren't buying at that point. We were there to see what their thoughts were and get the lay of the land. He was laid-back, quiet, humble, and showed a lot of humility."
But Fielder's asking price was never in the Rangers' ballpark.