Texas Rangers Have Little Choice But To Prepare For Life Without Ian Kinsler

By Thom Tsang
Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

It almost feels like the Texas Rangers are a band that’s about the break up, no?

After such a promising run by a core that looked destined for greatness, Michael Young was not so amicably eased out of town, Josh Hamilton is gone and Nelson Cruz is likely to follow. Skipper Ron Washington is surely on the hot seat after another late-season disappointment, Elvis Andrus was rumored to be traded right up until he signed a long-term extension, and there’s Ian Kinsler, who was just celebrating one of his own not too long ago … but who may be the next to leave.

As Dallas Morning News’ Evan Grant puts it, the reason might come down to field positions. See. while the Rangers would surely love to solve one of their roster needs by simply relocating an area of excess, their second baseman isn’t necessarily going to oblige in moving out of a premium position in the long run for the sake of the team.

Perhaps watching Young do it multiple times and seeing how that story ended up might have dissuaded the second baseman. Either way, given that the team still needs to find a spot for Jurickson Profar in the infield (the outfield thing isn’t really happening for the youngster as they’d be wasting his long-term value for the team), something still has to give here.

In short, it’s not really so much of a different situation that they entered Spring Training with this past season, except with the wrinkle that Andrus is now signed to a nine-figure deal and isn’t going anywhere any time soon.

In comparison, Kinsler’s $62 million remaining (including a $5 million buyout in his age-36 season) over the next four seasons is downright reasonable. Though he has been injury-prone ans is not without his flaws, there would likely be a number of team that would jump at the chance to acquire the 31-year old even with the contract. So too would the Rangers, really, but as Kinsler is continually holding up a future (ie. Profar) that they don’t want to give up, moving him may be the only choice left.

Though such a trade would seem counter-intuitive to the team that’ll still be looking to contend in the AL West in the short term, the money freed up might end up allowing the team to ultimately do more going forward.

No, Profar isn’t a surefire replacement at second given the ups and downs he saw in 2013, but the team almost needs to give him regular starts at this point of risk hampering the former all-world prospect’s development; and as far as an in-house replacement for Kinsler, it isn’t the end of the world.

That’s especially compared to the situation at catcher, where the team has no legitimate options at the moment (sorry, Robinson Chirinos). Would the team be better off if the money spent on Kinsler end up going to someone like … Brian McCann? You’d have to think so, given the talent gap that exists for the team in those respective positions.

In fact, you might even be able to argue that it would still be the case should Kinsler give the team the okay to move over to left field.

Losing Kinsler would be tough, but it is worth pointing out that he hasn’t come close to the 7.3 fWAR breakout he experienced in 2011. If he’s a 2.5-3.0 fWAR player going forward as he’s been in the last two seasons, he’d actually have a hard time playing up to his contract by the time it comes to an end.

It’s not inconceivable that Profar, given a full season, could come close to a .277/.344/.413 triple-slash with 13 home runs while providing good defense, and it’s about time the Rangers decisively gave him a shot instead of putting him in a utility role where the youngster not necessarily in the best situation to succeed.

For that to happen, Kinsler would have to kindly move out of the way, and as that looks like it’s not happening any time soon, the ensuing showdown may see someone traded — Kinsler being moved just happens to open more doors, that’s all.

Thom is an MLB writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @BlueJaysRant, or add him to your network on Google

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