Elvis Andrus’ eight-year, $120 million contract extension puts an end to any speculation that the Rangers would trade him to clear shortstop for stud prospect Jurickson Profar, but in doing so it opens up another can of worms involving Ian Kinsler.
Profar is arguably the No. 1 overall prospect in baseball, so presuming that the Rangers plan to hold onto him second base seems like the natural destination. Of course, Ian Kinsler is the Rangers’ current second baseman and has been since 2006, making three All-Star teams as one of the best all-around players at the position in baseball.
Kinsler is also signed through 2017, with a team option for 2018. So that means either the Rangers will look to trade the 30-year-old Kinsler to open up second base for the 20-year-old Profar or they’ll slide Kinsler to another position to keep them both. Kinsler could certainly play first base, but while his usual 25 homers and .800 OPS are extremely impressive among second basemen that production would be nothing special among first basemen.
It’s an interesting dilemma for the Rangers and certainly a nice problem to have. It’s also not something that needs an immediate resolution, because Profar is currently at Triple-A and turned 20 years old six weeks ago. But the Rangers are going to have some decisions to make pretty soon. Kinsler is owed $13 million this season and $62 million from 2014-2017.
The Marlins are intent on adding one of the three best relievers available on the free agent market, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports. Those three, of course, are Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen, and Mark Melancon.
As Ashley noted earlier, Melancon is reportedly fielding multiple four-year offers in excess of $60 million. The price tags for Chapman and Jansen are likely to match or exceed that. The Marlins haven’t typically been eager to whip out the checkbook for free agents but with the bullpen being the name of the game in baseball these days, GM Michael Hill may feel the need to match his rivals.
The Nationals, Giants, Yankees, Cubs, and Dodgers are the teams most often linked to the “big-three” group of relievers, so it won’t be easy for the Marlins.
A.J. Ramos handled the closer’s role for the Marlins this past season and did an admirable job, saving 40 games with a 2.81 ERA and a 73/35 K/BB ratio in 64 innings. There’s no doubt, though, that Chapman, Jansen, or Melancon would represent a significant upgrade in the ninth inning.
C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Reds manager Bryan Price is likely going to use a trio of pitchers in the closer’s role: Raisel Iglesias, Tony Cingrani, and Michael Lorenzen. At RedsFest on Saturday, Price said:
I’d say right now that we have a series of guys that I’m comfortable with in the ninth inning and that would include (Raisel) Iglesias, (Tony) Cingrani and (Michael Lorenzen). Should we stay with this format – which I intend to do – all three of those guys and maybe more could have opportunities in save situations. At this point in time, there’s no defined closer. There are multiple options and I’d like to stick with the philosophy that we’re going to have our multi-inning guys, so we’re going to need multi-closers.
This seems to be part of the new bullpen zeitgeist in which managers are shying away from strictly-defined roles for their relievers. Indians manager Terry Francona’s postseason success using Andrew Miller likely had some degree of influence on Price’s willingness to go with a three-headed giant.
Iglesias started the 2016 season in the Reds’ rotation but missed two months with an injury, then moved to the bullpen in late June. Price put him in the closer’s role down the stretch in September. The right-hander overall finished the season with a 2.53 ERA and an 83/26 K/BB ratio in 78 1/3 innings.
Cingrani battled control issues in his 63 innings of work this past season, finishing with a 4.14 ERA and a 49/37 K/BB ratio. He’s left-handed, though, and gives Price some matchup flexibility in the late innings.
Lorenzen impressed in his first full season as a reliever, ending the year with a 2.88 ERA and a 48/13 K/BB ratio in 50 innings. The right-hander uses a fastball that sits around 96 MPH on average along with a cutter and slider.