Commentary

For Daniels, there will be bold

Fielder-Kinsler trade again paints Rangers GM fearless. More big deals to come

Updated: November 21, 2013, 3:57 AM ET
By Jean-Jacques Taylor | ESPNDallas.com

Texas Rangers general manager Jon Daniels has no fear when it comes to making deals.

He's proved it over and over.

JD, as he's known throughout the baseball world, is as brazen as they come.

He could not care less about fan backlash. Or media criticism. He believes in himself -- and the scouts he employs.

It's the reason he traded for Josh Hamilton, when the troubled superstar had more tattoos than homers, and why he let Hamilton leave for free agency prior to last season.

[+] EnlargePrince Fielder
Tim Heitman/USA TODAY SportsIan Kinsler's loss will be more than made up by Prince Fielder, who gives the Rangers the left-handed, power-hitting first baseman they need … and a better shot at capturing a title.
It's the reason JD traded Michael Young -- the face of the franchise -- and spent $51.7 million of the ownership's money just for the right to negotiate a contract with some dude named Yu Darvish of the Nippon-Ham Fighters.

In case you missed it, Darvish, who signed a six-year, $60 million deal, finished second in the AL Cy Young Award voting last week.

Well, JD is at it again.

He pulled off one of the biggest one-for-one baseball trades in recent memory Wednesday night, when the Rangers traded All-Star second baseman Ian Kinsler to the Detroit Tigers for perennial All-Star first baseman Prince Fielder.

Wow.

This is the biggest of big-boy trades. Even Nolan Ryan would've liked this deal, right?

This is the first major on-field move JD has made since Ryan left the organization last month.

Kinsler is guaranteed $62 million over the next four seasons, which includes a $5 million buyout on his 2018 club option. Detroit will send the Rangers $30 million to cover a portion of the $168 million left on Fielder's deal.

The yearly payments will start in 2016.

Kinsler, who had spent his entire eight-year career with the Rangers, has had two 30-homer, 30-steal seasons and was a key factor in the Rangers going to consecutive World Series in 2010 and 2011.

The 31-year-old Kinsler hit .277 with just 13 home runs and 72 RBIs last season.

He'll be missed. No doubt.

But Fielder fits perfectly into the Rangers lineup.

The 29-year-old Fielder gives Texas the left-handed, power-hitting first baseman this team needs. He hit .279 with 25 home runs and 106 RBI in what was a mediocre season for him -- the first full season since 2006 in which he didn't smack 30 homers.

"If he was coming off [the] best year of [his] career," JD said, "he's not available [in a trade this offseason]."

With the right-field jet stream at Rangers Ballpark, Fielder could certainly hit 35 homers. Maybe more.

He hit 50 in 2007 and 46 in 2009.

He'll fit nicely in the 3-hole in front of cleanup hitter Adrian Beltre.

We have no idea what kind of toll the searing summer heat will have on Fielder's body after he spent the first nine seasons of his career in Milwaukee and Detroit.

He's listed at 275 pounds, but most of us lie about our weight. Apparently, Fielder is no different.

Still, he's missed just one game the past five seasons, and he's never played fewer than 157 games since he became a full-time big leaguer in 2006.

Sure, there's risk involved. Fielder is a big man, and there's a chance he'll have a dramatic decline as he nears the end of his deal.

No guarantees exist in pro sports. Every deal of consequence contains risk. The best GMs aren't paralyzed by fear.

They study the deal from every angle, then make a pragmatic baseball decision.

The reality is JD is on a pretty good streak when it comes to making franchise-altering moves.

More importantly, the move allows Jurickson Profar to play second base instead of being miscast as a utility infielder. Now, the Rangers have their middle infield of Profar and shortstop Elvis Andrus locked up for at least five seasons.

Profar, baseball's No.1 prospect entering last season, didn't do much to distinguish himself, hitting just .234. He's only 20, and when he reports to spring training he can focus on playing second base instead of wondering if and when he's going to play.

The stability can only help him, and we'll get a chance to see why JD often calls him a winning piece.

The Rangers, largely irrelevant for their first 38 years in Arlington, now consider themselves one of baseball's best franchises, as they should, after winning at least 90 games during each of the past four seasons. The Tampa Bay Rays are the only other AL team to do that.

On paper, the Rangers rotation matches up with the best teams in the AL, and their infield should be among the best in baseball with Fielder, Profar, Andrus and Beltre.

They still need a power-hitting outfielder and a closer, but JD has the rest of the winter to get that done.

JD wants the Rangers contending for a championship every season, which is why he's forever talking about the next wave of talent. Adding Fielder is the latest piece added in the Rangers' quest to win a title.

More moves must be made. Rest assured, JD will continue to be bold.

It's the only approach he knows.

Jean-Jacques Taylor joined ESPNDallas.com in August 2011. A native of Dallas, Taylor spent the past 20 years writing for The Dallas Morning News, where he covered high schools sports, the Texas Rangers and spent 11 seasons covering the Dallas Cowboys before becoming a general columnist in 2006.

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