Dave Cameron of FanGraphs updated his mid-season countdown of the most valuable players in baseball -- in terms of potential trade return -- unveiling his numbers 30-21 players. Included were two current Ranger, and one potential Ranger.
Checking in at No. 30 is the greatest second baseman in franchise history, Ian Kinsler.
At 30, he’s headed towards the downside of his career, but he’s still a highly productive middle infielder who can hit, field, and run the bases, and the extension he got pales in comparison to some of the recent big deals that similarly valuable players have received. While he might not still be a productive player by the end of the contract, he’s good enough now to make a big difference for many contenders, and the salary is low enough that he’s still producing surplus value for the next several seasons.
Kinsler also ranked 30th last year, which Cameron admits was probably too low.
Being the 30th most valuable player to trade at age 30 is actually a pretty fantastic accomplishment, and this highlights an important aspect of the Kinsler contract extension. Yes, the deal is extremely team friendly, and makes it likely Kinsler will retire as a Ranger, but it also means, should the Rangers need to move someone to make room for Jurickson Profar, Kinsler would actually be relatively easy to move for someone under multiple years of control at an advanced age. That is not supposed to sound happy, of course.
Speaking of Profar, just two spots down. . .
Profar makes contact, has power, draws walks, and might be a good enough shortstop to force Elvis Andrus out of the way, which is saying something indeed. He doesn’t have Mike Trout‘s speed, and you shouldn’t expect any prospect to flourish the way Trout has this season, but it’s not crazy to say that Profar is a similar type of hitter, with the added ability to play shortstop as well.
It is somewhat surprising to me that the best prospect in baseball only ranks as the 28th most valuable trade target, but oh well.
Meanwhile, a man who the Rangers have frequently been rumored as interested in also finds the list, at No. 23: Justin Upton.
A year ago, it seemed hard to imagine the D’Backs giving up on their star right fielder, but another mediocre season has made Upton seem like an underachiever once again, so any team acquiring him would be making a bet on a big comeback after changing teams. The talent is certainly there, but he’s no longer all that cheap — the last three years of his contract total $39 million — and has a spotty record hitting away from Chase Field. There’s a lot of risk to be absorbed by any acquiring team, but potential franchise players aren’t moved in their mid-20s too often, especially when they’re not close to free agency.
The rest of the list can be read through the link above. Yu Darvish ranked 42nd and Elvis Andrus ranked 50th. That feels low for Andrus, but the reasoning -- that he does not have much of his prime under control, and that players whose value comes from Andrus's skills are somewhat underrated -- at least makes sense.