A few days ago I talked about the rumored extension that the Rangers were in the process of offering to Ian Kinsler. Tonight it appears that the two parties have reached agreement on a 5 year/$75M extension.
When speculating, I was concerned that the Rangers were about to extend a middle infielder (albeit an outstanding out) at 31 years of age for close to or in excess of $100M – so kudos to the Rangers for paying a reasonable price. Even presuming a decline in Kinsler’s production over time, locking him up at an average contract price of $15M/season is more than reasonable.
I do think, though, that while the price was reasonable, the move is curious in terms of timing. Kinsler was locked up for both 2012 and 2013 for less than $20M combined, and I would have thought that taking this season would be advantageous for two reasons: (a) watching Kinsler stay healthy for another full season would certainly be useful, as he has struggled a little to stay on the field, and (b) I am interested in what a year’s development will do both for Elvis Andrus (who appears to have filled out a bit – whether that develops into a bit more pop at the plate is another story) and Jurickson Profar, the organization’s (and possibly the game’s) top prospect.
The industy also seems to be speculating that extending Kinsler is a precursor to transitioning him to LF when Profar is ready to break through to the majors, allowing Profar to move over from SS to 3B ala Robinson Cano. Certainly a move to the outfield would permit Kinsler to age somewhat more gracefully, though Kinsler’s defense at 2B is elite and the position change would significantly diminsh Kinsler’s ability to save runs for the Rangers.
All in all, the extension is probably a decent one for the Rangers – it is certainly not an overpay on the numbers – however, beyond the analysis strictly on the numbers, I think waiting until the offseason would have been unlikely to drive Kinsler’s price up, while it might have either driven it down or allowed the Rangers more time to make decisions on some of the other players they need to fish or cut bait on.