The offseason of our discontent continues. As the Detroit Tigers have explored various ways to offload payroll and improve their long-term prospects, rumors have flown around at a frenetic pace. The latest of those involves second baseman Ian Kinsler, who is coming off yet another stellar season in a Tigers uniform. According to Fox Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi, the Tigers and Los Angeles Dodgers have been “in contact” about the 34-year-old Kinsler.
Morosi also notes that Kinsler has a partial no-trade clause, though the teams on that list are not known. Kinsler has a $10 million option for the 2018 season with a $5 million buyout. If he is traded, Kinsler could demand that the Dodgers guarantee that $10 million salary in order for him to lift the no-trade protection. Of course, if the Dodgers are not on Kinsler’s no-trade list, he can be swapped without his consent.
The Dodgers have a considerable number of assets at their disposal, many of which we explored when they were rumored to be calling about Cy Young contender Justin Verlander. Morosi notes that the Tigers are interested in Cody Bellinger, a left-handed hitting outfielder with power. Here’s what Jacob had to say about Bellinger last week:
The best prospect in a Dodgers’ pipeline without Corey Seager or Julio Urias, Bellinger is a first baseman with an offensive profile that would strike fear into the hearts of pitching staffs game-wide. He is a left-handed masher, but unlike most, he doesn’t struggle with strikeouts. He also is graded as having plus defense as well, an unusual trait in a first baseman, but certainly not an undesirable one and it will allow him to stay a defenseman long-term instead of transitioning to DH as most do. He spent 2016 in Double-A and batted to a line of .263/.359/.843 (AVG/OBP/OPS) with 23 home runs and a huge 12.7% walk rate. He is rated as the Dodgers best prospect and the the 31st best prospect in the game.
Or you can take a look at Bellinger’s swing for yourself, too.
With a large surplus value — Kinsler’s next two seasons will cost a team just $23 million, while his average of near 6 WAR the past several seasons gives him a conservative value of around $50 million more than what he’s being paid — it’s going to take more than just Bellinger for the Dodgers to pry him away, if the Tigers’ front office is doing its job right. If the Dodgers and Tigers were serious about the Verlander talks reported last week, there could possibly be a blockbuster deal to be found bringing a large number of Dodgers prospects back to Detroit. That would certainly be the start of a good rebuild, and if Julio Urias was involved maybe soften the blow a bit for fans.