Phillips, Choo could be affected by Prince-Kinsler deal
Where Cano lands may also determine if Reds move Gold Glove second baseman
CINCINNATI -- Sure, it was a 1-for-1 blockbuster trade made outside of the Reds' division, and even outside of their league.
But the ripple effects of Wednesday's trade that sent Prince Fielder and $30 million from the Tigers to the Rangers for Ian Kinsler could indeed reach Cincinnati.
Possibly affected by the swap are the two biggest pieces of the Reds' Hot Stove puzzle -- second baseman Brandon Phillips and outfielder Shin-Soo Choo.
No one from the Reds has come out and said that they're trying to trade Phillips. Yet, rumors that say otherwise have been rampant since early October.
If there is any real fire behind all of that smoke, Wednesday's deal could both harm and help a potential Phillips move.
The harm comes via the Tigers, a big-pocketed, big-market club that now no longer needs a second baseman. They just got a quality one in Kinsler, who will also become Detroit's leadoff hitter.
Texas will not need to shop for a player to replace Kinsler because it plans to move young shortstop Jurickson Profar to second base.
Other teams might need help at second base, but there is a lot of supply to match the demand at the moment. Much of the musical chairs game is hinged on free-agent prize Robinson Cano. Should Cano not return to the Yankees, Cincinnati could become an immediate potential trade partner with New York, along with the teams that lost out in landing Cano.
Another quality free-agent second baseman -- former Tiger Omar Infante -- is also on the market. The Angels have reportedly been trying to trade their second baseman, Howie Kendrick, in order to get pitching.
One of the originally viewed impediments to any possible Phillips deal was money. Phillips, at 32, is owed $50 million over the next four years. There are likely limited teams able to take on such payroll. However, his money owed pales to the contracts that just changed hands in the American League.
Wednesday's trade showed that some creativity, motivation and the right match can mitigate the issue of money. Only two years ago, Detroit signed Fielder to a whopping nine-year, $214 million contract. A total of seven years and $168 million remains on that deal. Kinsler is guaranteed $62 million over the next four years and has an option for a fifth year.
The Tigers sent $30 million to the Rangers to help offset the differences in the players' salaries. As much as teams trade players, they also trade contracts.
"You could tell both sides were interested and motivated," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. "We got the money where both sides could live with it and we made the deal."
"It happened really fast, there's no question," Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski said. "Really, since the General Managers Meetings last week, we just started to talk to clubs this week. We talked to a lot of different clubs at that point, really, about different processes, and then followed up. We really just kind of kicked this one around a little bit and then mentioned it with Jon Daniels, and he said, 'Well, that's interesting. Let me get back to you.'"
Phillips drove in a career-high 103 runs in 2013, but had the perception of a down year offensively. He batted .261 with 18 home runs, a .310 on-base percentage and a .396 slugging percentage. Defensively, he won his fourth Gold Glove.
Even after this trade, the Tigers and Rangers indicated they aren't done making moves. Texas would still like to add more offense and needs an outfielder. Detroit, free of Fielder's giant contract, is seeking a left-handed bat to replace him and someone who can be a corner outfielder.
Choo, a 31-year-old free agent, would certainly fit both clubs' needs. In 151 games this year, he batted .285 with 21 homers, 54 RBIs and 107 runs scored. He led all Major League leadoff hitters with 116 walks and his .423 on-base percentage trailed only teammate Joey Votto in the NL.
His on-base prowess has made Choo one of the most desired free agents on the market. The Rangers were already reportedly interested in him, as are the Yankees and Mariners.
Of course, don't count out the Reds in the race. General manager Walt Jocketty and the club have maintained hope that Choo could potentially return because he liked the team and city. But there is only so much room in the payroll for a smaller market club.
On the other hand, anything could happen at any time. Wednesday's Tigers-Rangers trade underscored that point nicely.