Last week, rumors surfaced that the Mets and Tigers had discussed a potential trade for Ian Kinsler. Although it should be noted that being “in talks” for a trade means little at this stage in the offseason, the trade seemed to make sense on a rudimentary level.
The Tigers are obviously looking towards the future, and the Mets would need a second baseman for 2018. And a trade under these auspices could give both teams what they want.
Kinsler could be an ideal choice for the Mets. Rob Piersall wrote about a Kinsler trade being a smart move for the Mets in a featured MMO piece of his earlier this week.
Kinsler has stayed relatively healthy over the course of his 12-year MLB career, is routinely one of the best-hitting players at his position, and has saved a whopping 108 runs above average over the course of his career. He could help the Mets in areas of defense and health — perhaps their two worst areas last season.
That said, the Mets still shouldn’t part ways with upper-level talent for him. If they are to trade for Kinsler, they should trade no more than one or two mid-level prospects.
Kinsler is 35, coming off one of the worst seasons of his career (he batted .236/.313/.412), and will be a free agent after next season. As Kinsler moves into the latter-half of his 30s, it’s reasonable to believe his best days could be behind him. Furthermore his $11 million salary could preclude the Mets from signing other free agents, as sad as that fact sounds.
Many in favor of bringing on Kinsler have pointed out that a lot of his quality-of-contact stats were in line with his career marks. This is true; his 37 percent hard-hit ball rate was actually the highest of his career, and his 20.6 percent line drive rate was in line with his 20.9 career mark.
His 9.0 percent walk rate was actually higher than his 8.5 percent career mark. It’s fair to say this could presumably make him a bounce-back candidate.
If Kinsler were 28, you could maybe give him the benefit of the doubt. But at 35, a player like Kinsler — coming off of a season like he just had — is simply not worth a premium price tag.
Such a price tag would be too risky for someone his age. Kinsler’s lackluster conventional stats may have meant he’s a victim of bad luck, or they could be indicative of a larger decline.
Besides, when was the last time the Mets acquired a veteran past his prime that actually panned out? Anyone?
Such a trade could also take a toll on the Mets’ depleted farm system. Trading a top-tier prospect in a Mets’ farm system that has already graduated its two best players, Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith, could hamstring the team for the future. The Mets don’t have a clear-cut poster child for their farm system anymore, and trading someone from the higher-end of that pool would make matters even worse.
And for what? One year of a 35-year-old second baseman?
Kinsler might be a nice piece for 2018. And for a mid-level prospect, the Mets would be dumb not to make this trade. However, if this means trading players like Smith or Dunn, the Mets should give Kinsler a hard pass.