The Texas Rangers and second baseman Ian Kinsler have agreed to a 5-year, $75 million extension that will go into effect after the 2012 season. The Rangers previously held a club option for $10 million in 2013, which this extension effectively buys out and replaces to keep Kinsler a Ranger through the 2017 season. A team option is also believed to be included for a sixth year. This extension makes Kinsler the highest paid second baseman in MLB history, eclipsing the $12.4M annual average value mark given to Dan Uggla.
Kinsler was a 17th-round draft pick (496th overall) by the Rangers in the 2003 MLB draft. He progressed quickly through the Ranger minor league system, and made his MLB debut in 2006 as a 24 year old. Since 2007, Kinsler has been the Rangers best player, averaging 4.6 WAR per season, according to baseball-reference.com.
The Rangers and Kinsler have both expressed that they would not negotiate a contract once the season began. Kinsler himself said the two sides were “close enough to be disappointed it’s not done” just before the first pitch of the 2012 season, but were not able to come to an agreement. Now, it appears there was enough motivation by the two parties to get a deal done.
The future for Kinsler as a second baseman remains unknown, as the Rangers have a top-5 prospect at shortstop in Jurickson Profar. Profar may be MLB ready within the next two years, and with Elvis Andrus at shortstop, that would likely mean Profar may make his debut as a second baseman. Kinsler profiles well to slide to a corner outfielder position as one possible solution to the congestion of talented middle infielders. One other solution could mean that Andrus may be traded before he hits free agency after the 2014 season.
All in all, this contract extension for Kinsler will likely keep him a Texas Ranger for his entire career. To the Rangers credit, they managed to lock up one of their best players, and team leaders, to an affordable extension. Assuming the going rate is about $5 million-per-WAR, and 5% inflation, Kinsler would need to average 2.7 WAR for the next five seasons to justify the price tag. For a complete player like Kinsler, with premium offensive, defensive, and baserunning abilities, that is a mark well within range.
The Rangers now have only three players under team control through the 2017 season – Kinsler, Yu Darvish, and Derek Holland. The future of the Rangers is taking shape, and it appears to be just as bright as the present.