One of the biggest storylines of the Texas Rangers' 2013-14 offseason is the question of what they are going to do with the logjam in the middle of their infield. As it currently stands, the Rangers have three players -- Elvis Andrus, Ian Kinsler, and uber-prospect Jurickson Profar -- for two spots. Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports that a trade is "starting to look inevitable" and that Kinsler is the most likely to be dealt. Kinsler is a natural second baseman, which is something the Tigers currently need. Could the Tigers and Rangers pair up for a deal?
Who is he?
Kinsler is a 31 year old from Arizona who has been one of the most well-rounded second basemen in baseball over the past eight years. He was twice drafted by Arizona Diamondbacks in 2000 and 2001, but did not sign. He finally signed with the Rangers in 2003 and debuted in 2006, playing 120 games. Kinsler finished seventh in the Rookie of the Year voting after putting up an .801 OPS with 14 home runs and 11 steals.
Why should we care?
Since he was called up to the majors in 2006, Kinsler is tied for fourth among all second basemen with 29.1 fWAR. He and Brandon Phillips are the only two second basemen with at least 150 homers and 150 stolen bases during that span. Kinsler has had two 30/30 seasons, in 2009 and 2011. He has excellent plate discipline, with a career 9.6% walk rate and 22.5% O-swing percentage. He's no slouch defensively either, compiling +51 defensive runs saved in his eight seasons.
Why should we stay away?
It has been pointed out several times over the last few weeks on this site, but middle infielders don't age well. Kinsler is already 31 years old and will be 35 by the time he can become a free agent after the 2017 season. He hasn't shown any signs of decline yet, though he was just 15 for 26 in stolen base attempts last year. Even if Kinsler's 2018 option is bought out, he will still cost his owner more than $60 million over the next five seasons. He is worth the $16 million he will make in 2014 at the moment, but not if his power or speed start to drop off.
Will he end up in Detroit?
There's a chance -- we're talking Lloyd Christmas-type odds here -- but I'm not sure the Tigers have enough pieces that the Rangers would be interested in. However, Kinsler might be the only one of the Rangers' middle infield triumvirate that can be had without dealing Nick Castellanos. Getting rid of Kinsler's contract would give them the flexibility to pursue an extension for Max Scherzer, though that hasn't always been their M.O. in recent seasons. It's a long shot, but you never know what kind of tricks Dave Dombrowski has up his sleeve.
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