lukewarm stoveLast night’s surprising Rangers/Tigers trade has had a little time to settle. The Rangers are getting Prince Fielder and $30 million, while the Tigers are getting Ian Kinsler. The Tigers save a bunch of cash on a guy that, perhaps, they project will rapidly decline (and get a nice player in Kinsler, albeit one on a bad contract), and the Rangers open up a spot for Jurickson Profar and add a big lefty bat. The Rangers, essentially, signed Fielder for seven years and $138 million, with the side benefit of tossing Kinsler, who may have had about $18 million or so in dead money at the end of his current contract. That nets out seven years and $110 million for Fielder. Down year in 2013 and all, that’s really not that bad a deal for a guy who isn’t even 30 yet.

  • So what happens now? Well, everyone is immediately pointing to the Rangers as a candidate to sign Robinson Cano now (example here, out of New York), which screams desperate leverage play by Cano’s agent. Until yesterday, it was looking like a market of one, with the Yankees refusing to be bid up by Cano’s demand for more than $300 million. Suddenly, in come the deep-pocketed Rangers! How perfectly magical!
  • Speaking of Cano, if the Rangers don’t get involved and the market remains thin, Dave Cameron speculated that “a smart team like the Cubs” will jump in at some point. Not so sure about the Cubs being that particular team, but Cameron is right: if the Yankees hold fast at seven years and $160 million, and maybe even move on to other options, some team could wind up with a relative bargain on Cano. How low would it have to sink for the Cubs to get involved? Well, the question is, at what point does he have clear surplus value? I think it’s safe to say that six years and $120 million is a no-brainer (and it would be for 20+ teams in baseball). How about six years and $150 million? Cano is likely to still be a productive player through his age 36 season, even if not quite $25 million. Still, that strikes me as about the ceiling for a team like the Cubs, who might not have the best use for Cano’s most productive years, which will come in the next two seasons. In other words … folks can keep dropping Cano’s name with the Cubs, and I just don’t see it happening at almost any realistic price. In the end, Cano is probably going to get seven or eight years, and close to $200 million.
  • In the same FanGraphs chat, Cameron says a reasonable extension for Jeff Samardzija is about five years and $60 million – that’s the range I’ve been saying for about a year now. Cameron knows what he’s talking about, and the Cubs would be wise to stick to that range. If Samardzija won’t come down, then you cross the uncomfortable bridge of shopping him more aggressively, either now or at the 2014 Trade Deadline.
  • Ned Colleti is pretty open about the fact that he’d move one of his surplus outfielders (presumably one of Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford, and Andre Ethier), and Matt Kemp’s agent says he’s resigned himself to the possibility of being dealt. We’ve discussed the Dodgers’ outfielders before, each of which could make some sense for the Cubs, depending on how much money the Dodgers are willing to eat. Kemp is the youngest of the three (just turned 29, versus 32 for Crawford and soon-to-be 32 for Ethier), and offers the most upside. He’s also recovering from shoulder and ankle surgeries, and has played just 179 games over the last two years. How much, per year, is a guy like that worth for the next six years? He’ll be making $21 million for the next two and $21.5 million for the following four. At $15 million per year, would you take the chance? Would you sign Kemp today for six years and $90 million? There’s a lot of risk there, but the answer is undoubtedly yes, right? The Cubs have outfield space for Kemp both in the near and long-term, and he’d be the kind of get-him-while-he’s-available type that could make sense, even if the Cubs aren’t going to be competitive in 2014. It all just depends on the medicals, the Dodgers’ demands, and the money.
  • Apropos of my thoughts earlier on a cheap lefty reliever pick-up, the prevailing rate for a top lefty specialist is three years and $13 million – that’s what 36-year-old Javier Lopez got to return to the Giants.
  • I want to give MLBTR a big smooch for the visual representation of the Tigers/Rangers trade with respect to future payroll commitments before and after the trade. Beautiful use of a graph.

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