Jon Heyman of CBS Sports is reporting that the Tigers and Rangers have discussed a trade that would send first baseman Prince Fielder to the Rangers and second baseman Ian Kinsler to the Tigers.
In terms of OPS, the Rangers had the second-worst production from their first baseman in the American League, beating only the Yankees, .700 to .690. They used Mitch Moreland for a majority of games there but he could only muster a .736 OPS. Meanwhile, Fielder finished with a career-low .819 OPS, but even that would have been a significant upgrade for the Rangers.
The Rangers also have a glut of middle infielders and are looking to deal from depth to address other areas. Trading Kinsler to the Tigers would open up second base for Jurickson Profar. The Tigers got average production at second base in 2013, utilizing Omar Infante there for the most part. Infante is expected to draw interest from a handful of teams and the Tigers may not want to get involved in a bidding war for a player worth between 0.9 and 2.4 WAR over the last four seasons, according to Baseball Reference. Kinsler logged in at 4.9 in 2013 and as much as 7.0 back in 2011.
Fielder’s contract would be one hurdle to clear. The Tigers signed him to a nine-year, $214 million contract in January 2012. He still has $168 million remaining as well as a limited no-trade clause. Kinsler is signed through 2017 with an option for 2018. He is still owed $62 million, but his contract was front-loaded, so his salary gradually decreases throughout the remainder of the deal.
Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon hasn’t selected a fifth starter for his 2017 rotation yet, but told reporters that he could envision left-handers Brett Anderson and Mike Montgomery sharing the spot throughout the year. Neither pitcher was stretched out to the full 200-inning threshold last year, Maddon added, and suggested that the two could alternate innings out of the rotation and bullpen as needed (via MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat).
Anderson, 29, was acquired by the Cubs in January on a $3.5 million deal. He’s coming off a rough 2016, during which he underwent back surgery and missed all but 11 1/3 innings of his last season with the Dodgers. His last full, healthy year in the majors yielded a 3.69 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 5.8 SO/9 over 180 1/3 innings with Los Angeles in 2015.
Montgomery, meanwhile, is vying for a rotation spot after pitching almost exclusively from the bullpen during the second half of the Cubs’ 2016 run. The 27-year-old lefty put up a 2.82 ERA, 4.7 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings for Chicago last year, returning in the postseason to post a 3.14 ERA during the Cubs’ championship finish.
Maddon also mentioned the possibility of throwing a sixth starter into the mix, which would help prevent his other starters from getting overworked too early in the year. Either way, Anderson and Montgomery are expected to get a lot of looks early in spring training as rotation spots are finalized in the weeks leading up to Opening Day.
Orioles’ center fielder Michael Bourn is expected to be sidelined for four weeks while he rehabs a broken ring finger on his right hand, according to reports from the Baltimore Sun’s Peter Schmuck. Bourn broke the finger while playing catch with a football after a spring training workout.
The veteran outfielder re-signed with the club earlier this week on a minor league deal and was prepared to compete for a bench role this season. He’s in line to receive a $2 million salary if he makes the major league roster and can make an additional $3.5 million in incentives based on a set number of plate appearances. Now, however, his chances of cracking the roster out of spring training look considerably diminished, as his current timetable gives him an approximate return date of March 25 if all goes well.
Bourn had an impressive, if short-lived run with the Orioles following his trade to Baltimore last August, batting .283/.358/.435 with two home runs and a .793 OPS in 55 PA. While still somewhat removed from the totals that brought him an All-Star nod with the Braves in 2012, his defensive chops should give the Orioles some depth in center once he’s healthy again.