Both objectively and otherwise, the Ian Kinsler deal is great news for the Texas Rangers.
Opening Day deadline, huh?
According to Richard Durrett, deadlines were made to be broken, as the Texas Rangers and Ian Kinsler have reportedly agreed to a five year, $75 million extension. So, Kinsler's self-imposed "no negotiating after Opening Day," line seems to have been misdirection.
Financially, this looks pretty awesome. There is always the chance of dramatic decline in any contract, so let's accept that and move on.
Unlike previous deals, this does not exercise his $10 million 2013 option, but rather kicks in next year, putting him as a Ranger through at least 2017, his age 35 season. "At least," because there is also a club option for 2018, making it very doable for Kinsler to retire a Texas Ranger.
That is $15 million a year, and he is most definitely worth it. In 2011, Fangraphs
valued Kinsler as having been worth $34.6 million
in terms of production on the free agent market. 2010, when he only played 110 games, was the only point since his second season they figure him as having been worth less than $15 million, and even then it was close.
All that was before Albert Pujols
, Joey Votto
, and Prince Fielder
changed the market. Their deals seem to be a clear sign of market inflation, particularly in length, thanks to teams' hefty new TV deals. If Kinsler was already worth more than twice the average annual value of this deal, this deal may end up becoming a real bargain.
The big concerns, of course, are aging and injury.
Kinsler has always struggled to stay on the field, and this deal starts after he should be in his decline phase. That said, none of his injuries appear to be from a recurring location. They may just be a factor of his play, and 2011 and his 723 plate appearances may be an indication of improving his ability to stay healthy. Remember this when you scream about him not running to first, or when he gets a day off to DH.
Meanwhile, as a fast guy, he stands to age relatively well, judging by MLB history. The Beyond the Boxscore aging curve thinks a 35-year old Kinsler will he will only be around 15 runs created worse.
In 2011, Fangraphs valued Ian Kinsler as having been worth 75 runs (or 7.7 wins) above a replacement level player (explanation of this stat
). Two of the best forecasts on the market -- Steamer and ZiPS -- see him as virtually the same player in 2012, just with a tad fewer games played. That rough estimate would have Kinsler being worth 55 runs for the Rangers at the end of this contract. That's a player who would have been worth $25 million in 2011.
And with even conservative estimates of inflation over the next five years, Kinsler could be worth more than twice this contract.
That is outrageously rudimentary, and it may underrate the injury risk. It may also overlook a potential move to leftfield or designated hitter to make room for Jurickson Profar
or to keep him healthy, which would ding his value.
However, he does not have to age normally to be worth this contract. If he can be an above-average player as a 35 year old he will almost assuredly be worth $15 million, which wouldn't even count any surplus value in the years before.
This contract is about more than just stats though; it makes it almost certain that Ian Kinsler never plays in another uniform. The Texas Rangers don't have many great players in their history, and most of the ones who were just stopped through on their way to other locations. Even Ivan Rodriguez has spent almost as much time out of Texas as in it.
Kinsler, drafted and developed by the Rangers, has a chance to buck that trend. He's fun to watch. He's undervalued. He wears tall socks and has floppy hair. His defense was plagued by miscues, so he fixed that. He improved his plate discipline, too.
He interrupted Josh Hamilton's Home Run Derby out of sheer joy. He told the hated Angels
to get off his ****ing field. When he launched a home run to put to bed the Rangers' first ever postseason series victory, he skipped down the first base path just like certainly many Rangers fans were skipping through their living rooms.
He may never make the Hall of Fame, but he is one of the greatest players in franchise history. He is already the franchise's greatest second baseman, and he is insanely fun to watch to watch. He has done all this during the golden age of the franchise, and will now be around as that golden age continues.
He needs to be a Texas Ranger, and now it looks like he will always be a Texas Ranger.