Posted on December 14, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
The Los Angeles Angels continue to have one of the best offseason in baseball. Late Wednesday night, the Angels agreed to acquire second baseman Ian Kinsler from the Detroit Tigers. The Tigers will receive prospects Troy Montgomery and Wilkel Hernandez as part of the deal. The trade comes on the heels of the Angels reaching an agreement with Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani.
The Angels were actually one of 10 teams on Kinsler’s no-trade list. However, he waived his no-trade rights to the deal could go through. With the Angels adding Ohtani and retaining Kinsler’s former Tigers teammate Justin Upton, Kinsler likely saw the Angels as a desirable team that’s ready to be a serious contender in the American League rather than staying with the rebuilding Tigers.
Upgrading second base was a top priority for the Angels this offseason. That position was a vacant hole of productivity in 2017. Kinsler should immediately solve that problem. Even during what could be considered a down season, Kinsler hit .236 with 22 home runs in 2017, posting an OPS of .725. Kinsler experienced a similar dip in his production in 2014, so it’s not hard to imagine the 35-year old having a bounce-back season. Kinsler is in the final year of his contract, so he should be properly motivated to have a big year heading into free agency next winter.
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“The people that we task with evaluating those things, both on-field evaluations and a little more metric-based evaluations, gave us some optimism that he’s better than that line,” Angels GM Eppler said of Kinsler. “I think he knows that. We believe in him as a player.”
Kinsler is also a sound defensive player who is one year removed from winning a Gold Glove in 2016. He and Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons should form a strong defensive tandem up the middle.
“He’s a pretty complete baseball player,” says Eppler. “Hits for average, has selectivity, can impact the baseball, plays outstanding defense, runs the bases well, phenomenal in the clubhouse, great teammate, from everything I’ve heard about him.”
For the Tigers, this trade is more of a salary dump than anything else. The Angels will assume the entire $11 million on Kinsler’s contract for 2018. As a result, the Tigers are receiving a pair of unheralded prospects. Montgomery is an outfielder who finished last season at double-A. He ranks as Detroit’s no. 25 prospect, according to MLB.com. Hernandez is an 18-year old pitcher who made his stateside debut in 2017. He is outside of Detroit’s top-30 prospects, according to MLB.com.
Without Kinsler, the Tigers are expected to hand Dixon Machado the everyday job at second base. The 25-year old Machado was a part-time player in 2017, hitting just .259 with an OPS of .621. The Tigers have no quality second base prospects in their system, so they may consider signing a veteran to help out at that position later in the offseason.
Ultimately, this trade nets the Tigers $11 million in savings and little else. Meanwhile, the Angels have a chance to be big winners of this trade. Kinsler is a trusted veteran who could end up being a huge upgrade over what they Angels got at second base last season. He should make a meaningful impact for a team hoping to challenge the Houston Astros in the AL West next season.