The Puzzling Logic of the Kinsler Extension
In April of 2012, the Rangers and Ian Kinsler agreed to a 5-year contract extension worth $75MM, with an option for a sixth year. At the time, the extension seemed to spell the inevitable end of Elvis Andrus’ time as a Ranger, as Andrus had (and still has) considerable trade value and the fact that top-rated prospect, Jurickson Profar, was simply biding his time in the minors (and more than likely will continue to do so, at least for the immediate future to start the 2013 season).
Sep 28, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler (5) throws to first base during the game against the Los Angeles Angels at Rangers Ballpark. The Angels beat the Rangers 7-4. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
At face value, extending Kinsler was a no brainer. From 2006 (the year of Kinsler’s MLB debut) to 2012, Kinsler ranks fifth in WAR at his respective position, which obviously portrays him as an elite 2B amongst his peers.
Contract-wise, it is fairly safe to assume at least a 3 WAR season from Kinsler in 2013 and in each season going forward during the duration of the contract, with outlier seasons obviously exceeding such a WAR total or making up for any possible seasons in which Kinsler’s skills may begin to decline near the latter end of the contract, which means surplus value on behalf of the Rangers, or at worst, an even deal based on the total value of the contract.
Also, what has not been given enough mention is the effect that Robinson Cano will have on the value of 2B in MLB. Whether Cano agrees to an extension with the Yankees or if he reaches Free Agency and signs with another team is irrelevant, because Cano will undoubtedly sign the biggest contract ever for a 2B, which will undoubtedly set a new standard for the value of 2B on the market. The supply and demand for elite 2B will inevitably indicate that the Rangers’ contract extension with Kinsler is a bargain, regardless of the logjam that retaining Kinsler with Andrus and Profar creates. The Rangers speculated the upward trend of the value of contracts on the FA market and struck a deal that was in the best interests of the team, as it is seeming more and more likely that Andrus intends to test FA waters (big secret there). Extending Andrus is simply unrealistic and illogical for a plethora of reasons.
Now, the puzzle that retaining Kinsler with Andrus and Profar creates is a problem, but it is a good problem to have. Andrus still appears to be the odd man out, but the Rangers have not given any inclination of a willingness to trade him. But given Jon Daniel’s track record as the Rangers GM, I smell something fishy. Trading Andrus is such an obvious solution that it may have indeed lowered Andrus’ value on the trade market, as other teams know that the Rangers definitely want to clear space for Profar and are hamstringing the Rangers based on this notion. The solution to counter this is what the Rangers are doing now: Hold onto Andrus until the demand for Shortstops on the trade market increases during the season. Injuries are inevitable and so are teams who feel their chances at making the playoffs can be increased by filling a hole at shortstop by trading for a player of Andrus’ caliber.
Sep 12, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Rangers shortstop Jurickson Profar (2) and shortstop Elvis Andrus (1) wait to congratulate teammates after defeating the Cleveland Indians at Rangers Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
The Rangers are doing the wise thing here. At the present, this seems like a problem with no logic, when in fact, this is a problem that will reap benefits. The Kinsler extension was a no brainer given the increasing value of elite players on the FA market, and retaining Andrus for the near future is the smart business decision given the fact that there will be a stronger demand for his services during the season (which maximizes Andrus’ trade value), and the demand for Andrus will not be in Texas, because a time will soon come when Profar will no longer be biding his time in the minors to take over the reigns as the Rangers’ starting shortstop, instead, Profar will be manning the position in Texas sooner rather than later.