The Texas Rangers have handed out several new one-year contracts lately as the shadow of the MLB lockout grows. However, Texas was in negotiations with outfielder Josh Hamilton for a new, long-term contract extension before Hamilton suffered an alcohol relapse. Now the focus shifts to two-time All-Star second baseman Ian Kinsler, who deserves a contract extension more than any other Ranger.
Since being brought up to the majors after Alfonso Soriano was traded in 2006, Kinsler has been a rock at second base and one of the Rangers’ most consistent hitters. With a hitting average of .277 since joining the Rangers, Kinsler joined the 30-home run, 30-steal club by recording at least 30 bombs and 30 stolen bases in the 2009 and ’11 seasons.
Kinsler also holds Rangers records for career steals of third base, career leadoff home runs, hits in a single game, runs in a single game, extra base hits in a single game and double plays in a single game. The best part? He’s still on 29 years old.
It’s very possible Texas might lose several quality players after the lockout. Catcher Mike Napoli, reliever Mike Adams and outfielder David Murphy, to name three, are all free agents or eligible for arbitration after the 2012 season. If the Rangers want to ensure a realistic chance for more World Series trips beyond 2012, signing Kinsler to an extension is a good start.
Hamilton may be a slugger, a former MVP and a crowd favorite, but he comes with baggage and hasn’t had the greatest attitude in the world lately. Kinsler has never had a problem with substance abuse or alcohol; he’s a model player on and off the field. Leading off the Rangers’ powerful lineup is only the beginning of what Kinsler means to this team.
A leader on a baseball team isn’t just someone who hits home runs in the clutch; it’s a player who does that and drives to a bar late at night to pick up his teammate that lied to him about drinking in the first place. That proves Kinsler cares more about this team than his personal success.
“I would love to get a deal that probably in the long run is going to be team-friendly,” Kinsler said. “I would have no problem with that. I want to stay here.”
And the Rangers should do anything necessary to make sure Kinsler stays in Texas beyond 2012. The smart thing to do is get him locked up now before the lockout and before the Rangers are forced to pick up their $10 million team option in 2013. Texas doesn’t typically negotiate contract extensions during the season, so that means something needs to happen quickly.
“We’ll see what happens in the next three days,” Kinsler said.