The Texas Rangers have what has often been called an "embarrassment of riches" in the infield. And with Elvis Andrus, Jurickson Profar, and Ian Kinsler all calling the Arlington middle infield home, that appears to be the case. But they also have something of a power shortage with Josh Hamilton leaving last offseason and Nelson Cruz now headed for free agency. One solution to the problem would be moving one of those excellent infielders to a corner outfield spot.
But ESPN's Christina Kahrl suggests, the team could trade Kinsler and the $62M they owe him over the next four seasons to free themselves up for a run at Brian McCann, Shin-Soo Choo, or Carlos Beltran. Kahrl also suggests the Rangers should offer to eat some of that money ($3M-$5M per season) in order to facilitate a trade.
Kinsler's numbers are very solid over the last 3 years...for a second baseman. And although he wouldn't necessarily be a failure in the outfield, his power numbers would pale in comparison to productive corner outfielders. So Kahrl might be on to something, at least as far as power numbers go.
But would the Rangers really have to offer to eat some of his contract to move him?
Kinsler will make $16M in 2014. But his contract tapers off to some extent from there -- $16M in '15, $14M in '16, $11M in '17, and a team option for $10M in '18. That's pretty reasonable for a top-5 second baseman. And that's what Kinsler been. Despite a down year in 2013, his 16.0 fWAR trails only Robinson Cano, Ben Zobrist, and Dustin Pedroia for second basemen from 2010-2013.
If the Rangers want to shed salary from their middle infield, Kinsler is the obvious choice. But his contract is fair for a player of his caliber -- and as an added advantage, it recedes with his age. And though he might not be a perfect fit for a Rangers team seeking corner outfield power, Kinsler could be a highly valuable asset to teams looking to improve at second base. The Yankees, Orioles, White Sox, Tigers, Royals, and Blue Jays would all welcome Kinsler with open arms -- and those are just the teams in the AL that would likely have interest. In the NL, the Braves, Reds, Rockies, and Mets could all put him to use, depending on various factors.
A trade might be the most likely outcome, but if Texas is able to move Kinsler for the chance at signing McCann, Corey Hart, and Shin-Soo Choo (as Kahrl proposes), they'd have to at least consider it.
Texas could do much worse than Kinsler in right field. Changing his position would devalue him to some extent, but if GM Jon Daniels doesn't find a fit on the trade market, Kinsler (or Profar) might be on his way out...of the infield.
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