Just the other day I gave three reasons that the Texas Rangers should refrain from trading Ian Kinsler this offseason. The Rangers will look for every way possible to improve the club this offseason and some of those options will include possible trades of Kinsler or Elvis Andrus. This would be to not only make room for Jurickson Profar, but to also improve the club in other areas. Since there is obviously no clear cut answer on how the Rangers should deal with the middle infield situation, I will now look at three reasons for the Rangers to pursue a Kinsler trade this offseason.
Kinsler Is an Infielder
There has long been talk of Kinsler moving to the outfield at some point in his career and there is little doubt that he is fully capable of the move. He is a great athlete and could most likely be an above average defender in the outfield, but he is a middle infielder and a pretty good one at that. He may have had a bit of a down year defensively, but he is still one of the best defenders in the game. You can look at all of the advanced stats that show he had the worst defensive year of his career since his first few years in the league, but it was simply a bad year. He has plenty of good years left at second base and there is no reason for the Rangers or any other club to move him from there anytime soon. The problem with this is that the Rangers are loaded up the middle and somebody has to go. Kinsler makes the most money and while Andrus will be due a large payday in a few years, that time has yet to come. While Kinsler is a fine defender now, he will most likely change positions at some point and when that occurs his value will drop. The Rangers might as well move him now, than once his value has declined at another position.
Trade a Leadoff Hitter
There is a very, very good chance that Kinsler will not be the leadoff hitter for the Texas Rangers in 2013. Ron Washington is a very loyal manager and there is no question that Kinsler's power from the leadoff spot is very nice, but Elvis Andrus has turned into a very fine hitter and based off of 2012 alone would be a nice fit at the top of the order, with Michael Young moving back into the #2 hole. Kinsler would then be looking at hitting somewhere around the #6 spot in the order. While that would not necessarily be a problem for the Rangers, the value of Kinsler is much greater as a leadoff hitter than as a #6 hitter. Hitting elsewhere in the lineup also tends to bring out some of his bad habits and the Rangers need him leading off to maximize his value. If he is not going to be leading off, the Rangers should look at all of their options and the options available elsewhere for a more prototypical middle of the order hitter.
Buy Low...Sell High
In all honesty, selling high would have been a year ago. That was when Kinsler was one of the best leadoff hitters in the game, was a 30/30 man for the second time in his career and was one of the best defensive second basemen in the game. 2012 was a bit of a different story where Kinsler struggled offensively, defensively and on the bases. His stock would most likely be down on the trade market and while it could move up a bit if he returned to his 2011 form, it could move way down if he repeats 2012. His contract will move up to $16 million per year in 2014 and 2015 and that contract could become much harder to move at that point if the Rangers wanted to do so. Thankfully Kinsler will not age near as much as Michael Young did during his contract and his deal drops back down to $11 million in 2017, but the high point of return could come this offseason. Most teams will still be looking at him as a solid leadoff hitter with power and a great defensive second baseman. If the Rangers are now concerned at all about the this contract, this would be a good time to move it.
There is absolutely no right or wrong answer with Kinsler, Andrus or Profar. They are all very talented ballplayers and the Rangers are very lucky to have such a talented group of young guys at the same time. It all will come down to what the Rangers need the most and how these three can help them accomplish that. There is no glaring reason to trade or not to trade Kinsler, but if the Rangers are going to do it at anytime during this contract, the time might be now.
John Bowman is a lifelong baseball and Texas Rangers fan that loves to ponder the deeper aspects of the game. Some of his first baseball memories involve Arlington Stadium nachos, Charlie Hough's knuckleball, dirt on Pete Incaviglia's uniform and the voices of Mark Holtz and Eric Nadel as he fell asleep.