Tigers Send Kinsler to the Angels, Continue Rebuild
In continuation with the rebuilding process, the Tigers dealt Ian Kinsler to the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday. Rumors were swirling around the MLB Winter Meetings in Orlando this week that a Kinsler deal was in the works.
Kinsler is a 12 year MLB veteran who came to Detroit in a 2013 off-season deal between the Tigers and Texas Rangers, sending Prince Fielder to Texas. The four time All-Star, Gold Glove winning Second Baseman is a career .273/.342/.447 hitter, with 234 HRs and 839 RBIs. Despite only batting .236 in 2017, Kinsler has been one of the most solid Second Baseman in baseball for over a decade. He was a critical part of both the 2010 and 2011 AL Pennant winning Rangers and the 2014 AL Central winning Tigers.
Unfortunately for Kinsler, he began his career in Detroit on the downside of the clubs era of success. The Tigers exited the 2014 Playoffs in the Division Series and failed to make the postseason in 2015, 2016 and 2017. Kinsler, at age 35, is entering the final year of his contract; he’s scheduled to earn $11 million in 2018. Given the moves made by the Tigers at the 2017 Trade Deadline, it should be no surprise to Tigers fans that Kinsler would be on the trading block. There’s also a lot less sentimental value for fans, as Kinsler, though popular, was not a part of the 2006 or 2012 AL Championship teams.
So, what did the Tigers get in return? Outfielder Troy Montgomery and RHP Wilkel Hernandez ranked 20th and 24th in the Angels farm system. The 23 year-old Montgomery hit .271/.358/.415 starting in Low-A and ending up in Double-A Mobile last season. He hit 8 HRs, 38 RBIs and stole 15 bases. He’s known for his ability to play all three outfield positions. In terms of Hernandez, the 18 year old right-hander from Venezuela has only pitched 59.1 innings in Rookie League, with a 6-1 record, 2.28 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and 58 Strikeouts. Montgomery is largely seen a potential utility outfielder, whereas it may be too early to tell with Hernandez.
Is this a huge haul for the Tigers? Not really. But, given Kinsler’s struggles at the plate in 2017, his $11 million contract, his age and his position, the interest in him was somewhat limited. More importantly, despite negotiations that began with the Mets, Brewers and Giants, Kinsler’s no-trade clause allowed him the veto power to reject those trades. The Tigers front office was reportedly frustrated with the process.
So, where does that leave the Tigers at Second Base? The likely frontrunner at this point is Dixon Machado, who was named 2017 Tigers Rookie of the Year. Machado is primarily known for his defensive skills, he played 73 games for Detroit in 2017, hitting .259/.302/.319. There’s also the possibility of Dawel Lugo, acquired from the Diamondbacks in the JD Martinez trade. Lugo spent last season in Double-A, hitting a combined .277/.321/.424 with 13 HRs and 65 RBIs between Jacksonville and Erie. He began transitioning to Second Base with the Seawolves and has shown promise according to multiple sources. How close he is to a MLB debut is currently uncertain. Finally, the Tigers signed Ronny Rodriquez on Friday, to a Minor League contract, coming over from the Columbus Clippers (Cleveland Indians). The 25 year-old hit .291/.324/.454 last season, with 17 HRs and 64 RBIs for the Clippers. He offers the Tigers another potential option at Second Base.