Rangers would consider trading an infielder
Texas willing to talk about moving Andrus, Kinsler or Profar due to its depth
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers have let other teams know they are willing to at least talk about one of their middle infielders -- Elvis Andrus, Ian Kinsler or Jurickson Profar -- in any trade discussions that come up this offseason.
According to industry sources, the Rangers don't feel an urgency to trade one of those three, but they are willing to listen because it is an area of strength and they have other needs to address this winter.
The Rangers have also made it clear to other teams they are not trying to dump Kinsler's salary and they are adamantly opposed to picking up any part of the contract in order to facilitate a trade. The Rangers do not view themselves as being in the same situation as last offseason, when they picked up $10.5 million on Michael Young's $16 million contract when they traded him to the Phillies.
Kinsler, 31, hit .277 with 85 runs scored, 31 doubles, 13 home runs and 72 RBIs in 136 games this past season. He had a .344 on-base percentage and a .413 slugging percentage.
Kinsler is guaranteed $62 million over the next four years, an annual average value of $15.5 million. Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia just signed an eight-year, $110 million extension last season, and free-agent second baseman Robinson Cano is seeking a new contract worth $20 million to $30 million per year. Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips is due $50 million over the next four years.
Kinsler's $15.5 million contract is also not that much more than the $14.1 million value for qualifying offers made to some free agents on Monday. Among those who received a qualifying offer was Mariners designated hitter Kendrys Morales.
There is also a significant need for second basemen among other teams. The Yankees will be looking for a second baseman if they can't re-sign Cano, and according to reports, they have already contacted the Reds about Phillips. The Tigers will need a second baseman if they don't bring back Omar Infante. The Orioles, Royals, Blue Jays and Cubs are also looking for help at second base.
But Kinsler has a partial no-trade clause in his contract, which allows him to designate seven clubs he can't be traded to, and he made it clear at the end of the season he wants to stay in Texas. He is also not enthusiastic about playing in New York.
There are more clubs looking for second-base help rather than shortstop, and the Rangers just signed Andrus to a contract extension that locks him in through at least 2018. But Profar can play both second and shortstop. Profar also has just one year of service time, which makes him more attractive to low-budget and rebuilding clubs.
Profar, who turns 21 in February, played in 85 games for the Rangers in 2013, hitting .234 with a .308 on-base percentage and a .336 slugging percentage. He played 32 games at second base, 18 at shortstop, 10 at third base and four in the outfield. The Rangers would like to anchor Profar at one position if they can in 2014. He is hitting .328 in 16 games in the Dominican Winter League.
The Rangers are also not eager to continue trading young players. They have pushed their farm system to the limit over the past four years by trading young players for immediate help. Texas traded four players to the Cubs for pitcher Matt Garza, who is now a free agent and is not expected to re-sign with the Rangers.
That's also why the Rangers may end up being reluctant to pursue pitcher David Price if the Rays make him available by trade. Even if Tampa Bay was interested in Profar, that would only be a conversation starter over a package that might include three to four prospects.
Trading Kinsler would allow the Rangers to free up salary to address other needs and possibly make a serious run at seven-time All-Star catcher Brian McCann. Although the Rangers have re-signed Geovany Soto as their No. 1 catcher, they could consider free agent McCann for a backup role while also getting time at designated hitter and possibly first base.
The Rangers are looking for offensive help at left field, catcher, designated hitter or first base. Texas has discussed the possibility of moving Kinsler to another position, but that doesn't appear to be the most desirable option.
The Rangers have been in touch with other clubs, and general manager Jon Daniels should get a better idea of the market when he attends the annual General Managers Meetings next week in Orlando, Fla.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.