With All-Stars Corey Seager and Marcus Semien up the middle for the Texas Rangers, it could make their former Gold Glover available in the trade market.
The Texas Rangers made some noise on the free agent market in a span of 24-hours, but have been halted due to the league-wide lockout.
A team that finished with 102-losses in a season ends up with two of the best middle infielders In the game, a bona-fide workhorse on the mound and a quality bench or platoon outfielder.
All that being said, the Texas Rangers aren’t done and now have a bevy of infielders from which to deal: including 2020 Gold Glove winner Isiah Kiner-Falefa.
In the market pre-lockout, the Rangers were one of baseball’s surprise teams with rumblings around the league saying they were dabbling in the trade market, as well.
With rumors of the Texas Rangers being interested in the Cincinnati Reds pitching staff, namely Luis Castillo and Tyler Mahle, as well as slugging A’s first baseman Matt Olson, you would imagine that one of Yonny Hernandez, Andy Ibáñez, Nick Solak or Isiah Kiner-Falefa would be involved in those discussions.
As much as I hate to say it, IKF is the most valuable, sought after piece on the ballclub, and if the Texas Rangers can net an All-Star caliber player for their 2021 Opening Day shortstop, by all means should they pull the trigger.
Isiah Kiner-Falefa is the Texas Rangers’ best trade asset at the moment
But what makes Isiah Kiner-Falefa so special and sought after? Well, his versatility is one thing. How many big leaguers in the history of the game have played over 70 games at third, short and catcher? One. Throw in second base in there, too.
Gold Glove defense is a big one, as well. The Texas Rangers developed one of the most underrated defensive players in all of baseball.
Two years of affordable control on Isiah Kiner-Falefa would also drive up the Rangers asking price. For reference, IKF only made two million last season.
He’s as consistent as they come, holds great leadership within a clubhouse and the invaluable, loves the organization and the community surrounding the ballpark.
What’s not to love, right? Well, other organizations seek those kinds of players out. They don’t hit the open market very often. (Except this year, the Rangers netted two of them in free agency.)
That’s not speculation, either.
The Yankees are in on the Kiner-Falefa sweepstakes. Understandably so. A poor performance from Gleyber Torres, losing Andrew Valsquez to the Angels on waivers and their top prospects a couple years out, it makes sense for them to be down the Rangers aisle.
The Texas Rangers and Yankees are pretty familiar with each other, after all, striking up deals for Rougned Odor and Joey Gallo this past season.
Obviously nothing can happen until a new CBA is agreed upon, but it is worth speculating what kind of return the Rangers could get for their Gold Glover.
According to Baseball Trades Trade Simulator, which measures the value of a deal by “field value”(WAR, years of control, inflation, projection and injury risk) and subtracts a player’s salary, the Rangers could grab two top-30 pitching prospects from their farm system.
I’m targeting the Yankees No. 8 prospect, right-hander Luis Medina (40-man) and no. 20 prospect, right-hander Randy Vasquez.
Medina is a 22-year old fireballer from the Dominican Republic, whose 70-grade fastball and 6-grade curveball make for a menacing one-two punch. At 16-years old, Medina was touching 100 mph. He also won the Pitcher of the Year during the Puerto Rican Winter League in 2020. A shorter kid at 6’1, Medina is very athletic with a smooth delivery and could make for a nice rotation piece.
Vazquez, on the other hand, has struggled with control issues. Everything on him says he’s athletic, has an easy delivery and could project as a starter, but will likely end up in the bullpen. A high-risk, high-reward type that the Rangers have historically loved.
I think the Texas Rangers could begin here, and if they find better offers, so be it. But, two top-30 prospects for two years of Kiner-Falefa is pretty good, all things considered.
Now, the Rangers and A’s have been in contact about Matt Olson, but what about throwing Kiner-Falefa in there to really move the needle.
It’s hard to imagine the kind of package it would take to pry Olson away from Oakland, and with the Braves, Yankees and potentially Dodgers in on the mix, it might be hard to get a solid package together that stacks up to the powerhouses.
However, the A’s are rebuilding, it seems, and the Rangers have a lot of controllable, young talent. Again using Baseball Trade Values Trade Simulator, I’ve lined up a trade that would clear some roster spots and net Texas the slugging first baseman.
If Isiah Kiner-Falefa can be used in a trade to net the Texas Rangers an elite player or more prospects, the cost could be worth it
Yes, it’s steep. Please be gentle on me.
Kiner-Falefa provides an immediate upgrade over the two middle infielders Oakland projects to run out on Opening Day 2022, Chad Pinder and Tony Kemp. Combined, Kemp and Pinder have a career 7.7 WAR, including Pinder’s dismal 0.4 WAR in 2021. Kiner-Falefa alone sports a career 7.2 WAR.
Lowe, Allard and Foscue would be longer term pieces, but Kiner-Falefa gets the job done for a team in desperate need of middle infield help, now and in the future.
Would this be enough to get a deal done? Maybe. Only time will tell.
Despite rumors of league interest in Isiah Kiner-Falefa, they are just rumors. It’s hard to deny that he is an incredible talent, great leader and fan favorite that undoubtedly is sought after.
Do I think the Texas Rangers want to deal Isiah Kiner-Falefa? No. Did I think they wanted to deal Gallo, either? No, but he’s now clean-shaven in pinstripes.
But, like Gallo, if a trade centered around Kiner-Falefa or he’s apart of a larger deal that will make the Texas Rangers more competitive, you’d have to believe he could be dealt.
Luckily, Ranger fans don’t have to worry about that anytime soon thanks to the lockout, but don’t be surprised if a few days after the baseball world opens back up, the Rangers’ phones will be ringing on their Gold Glove Flying Hawaiian.