Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News is reporting that the Texas Rangers have signed second baseman Ian Kinsler to a five year extension worth in the neighborhood of $75 million. The deal also contains an option for a sixth season. The approximate $15 million would dwarf the previous high average annual value of a contract for a second baseman, which is held by Dan Uggla and his $12.4 million per season. Kinsler’s overall contract value isn’t the highest overall for a second baseman, a distinction held by the seven year, $85 million contract signed by Chase Utley in 2007. However, it could be worth more than that if the option is exercised.
This was an essential signing for the Rangers to get done. Kinsler was making $7.2 million this year, and the Rangers held a $10 million club option on him for the 2013 season. The 29 year-old Kinsler has been one of the best (and most underappreciated) players in baseball over the last few seasons, joining the 30/30 club in both 2009 and 2010 while supplementing his excellent bat with an above average glove at second base. Last year for the Rangers, Kinsler had an .832 OPS with 32 homers and 30 stolen bases. And just think, he did that with a .243 BABIP, which indicates that his rate stats will likely rise as he reverts closer to the league norm of .300.
One thing that the Rangers may have to be worried about in this deal is durability. Kinsler played in a career high 155 games last season, but it was just the second time in his six seasons in the league that he played in more than 130 games. As Kinsler ages, he’ll likely become even more injury prone, and with this deal likely taking Kinsler into his mid-30s, it wouldn’t surprise me to see him continue to miss games as he provides his above average performance.
The only two star players left unsigned on this Rangers team are 2010 AL MVP Josh Hamilton and catcher Mike Napoli, who had a breakout year last season. Hamilton is considered a risk due to his past history in substance abuse, and the Rangers may be willing to let him test the market. As for Napoli, he was a major catalyst after coming over in a trade from the Blue Jays (via the Angels) last offseason, and provided Texas with a solid backstop for possibly the first time since Ivan Rodriguez left town. The only downside about Napoli is that he’ll be 31 once the season ends, and will likely be entering the twilight seasons of his career. An old catcher really isn’t someone worth devoting eight figures a year to.