Texas made its first big splash of the offseason this week when it was reported Wednesday night that second baseman Ian Kinsler had been traded to Detroit in exchange for first baseman Prince Fielder.
The Tigers also included $30 million cash in the deal to offset Fielder’s hefty salary obligations.
In addition, Wednesday saw longtime Rangers outfielder David Murphy agree to a two-year contract with the Cleveland Indians worth $12 million, bringing his tenure in a Texas uniform to a close.
Kinsler’s departure, at least on paper, would appear to solve the middle-infield logjam created by the emergence of Jurickson Profar, who figures to be the Rangers’ starting second baseman alongside shortstop Elvis Andrus.
Meanwhile, the 29-year-old Fielder could either supplant Mitch Moreland at first base or serve as the designated hitter for Texas. Whatever his role, Fielder will provide the Rangers’ batting order with a legitimate power threat from the left side of the plate.
“He gives us exactly what we’re looking for,” general manager Jon Daniels said. “He is a great complement to Adrian Beltre and a great presence in the middle of the lineup.”
Fielder was targeted by Texas when he hit free agency after the 2011 season, and although he was ultimately signed by Detroit, he remained on the Rangers’ radar as a long-term first base option that could benefit from playing his home games in Arlington.
Regardless of the setting, Fielder long ago established himself as a premier power hitter with Milwaukee and then the Tigers, amassing 285 career home runs with a lifetime slugging percentage of .527 over parts of eight seasons.
“He has presence,” Texas manager Ron Washington said about the five-time All-Star. “He’s been a very productive player. He’s a winning player. I do believe he’ll fit well in this clubhouse.”
As for Kinsler, he leaves the Rangers as the franchise’s all-time leader in stolen bases (172, with Andrus just seven behind) and ranks among the top ten in most other offensive categories as well.
News of the Kinsler trade came hours after it was announced that first-time free agent David Murphy had signed with Cleveland, meaning the Texas roster endured the loss of its two most senior members on the same day.
While he was never an All-Star or major award-winner, Murphy gave the Rangers a versatile everyday outfielder who could be penciled into the starting lineup more often than not, and over the years he saw playing time in left, center and right.
Since 2007, Murphy had appeared in more games in the Texas outfield (757) than any other player, and he logged at least 100 games in the outfield in each of the last six seasons.
Rosales Re-Signed by Texas
With Jurickson Profar set to take over full-time at second base, the Rangers have retained a capable backup option in the form of veteran Adam Rosales, who last Friday agreed to a deal with Texas worth $750,000 for the 2014 season.
Rosales, 30, spent this summer shuttling between the Athletics and Rangers rosters in a series of designations for assignment and waiver claims, batting just .190 overall but showing the ability to play all four infield positions.
While he started only two games with Texas, Rosales proved a valuable commodity as a pinch-hitter, pinch-runner and late-inning defensive replacement.
Trio Added to 40-Man Roster
Before the blockbuster trade with Detroit on Wednesday, the Rangers announced a set of roster moves geared toward protecting some minor-league players in next month’s Rule 5 Draft.
Right-handers Lisalverto Bonilla and Ben Rowen and middle infielder Luis Sardinas were all added to the 40-man roster for Texas, which also picked up right-hander Shawn Tolleson on a waiver claim from the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Bonilla and Rowen each split this season between Double-A Frisco and Triple-A Round Rock, and Sardinas stole a total of 32 bases for Frisco and High-A Myrtle Beach.
Rangers Sign Poreda, Snyder to Minor-League Deals
The ballclub announced last Thursday that it had agreed to minor-league contracts with left-hander Aaron Poreda and outfielder Brad Snyder, both of whom also received invitations to big-league spring training.
Poreda has not seen MLB action since 2009, when he made 14 relief appearances for the White Sox and Padres, and he missed all of this season following Tommy John surgery on his arm.
The 31-year-old Snyder spent much of his career in the Indians’ and Cubs’ farm systems before a pair of recent one-season stints with the Pacific Coast League affiliates of Houston and Arizona.