Rangers and Ian Kinsler working toward agreement on extension

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UPDATE: Jim Bowden of ESPN.com and MLB Network Radio reports that the Rangers and Kinsler are working toward a five-year contract extension.

The Rangers would pick up Kinsler’s $10 million option for next season as part of the agreement while the five-year extension would be worth approximately $14 million per season. This would guarantee Kinsler approximately $80 million over the next six seasons.

T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com confirms that the two sides are still “grinding” on contract extension talks and that a six-year deal is in play.

5:00 PM: Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reported earlier this week that Ian Kinsler and the Rangers were discussing a six-year contract extension, but today the second baseman told Richard Durrett of ESPN Dallas that there was nothing new to report.

Kinsler also called the negotiations a “confusing process” and described his level of optimism about getting something done as “neutral.”

Kinsler has said that he’d prefer not to negotiate during the season, but unlike some players he isn’t setting a strict Opening Day deadline for the talks if they’re relatively close to getting something done.

He’s also under contract for $7 million this season and the Rangers hold a $10 million option for 2013, so it’s something the two sides could revisit in the offseason.

Cubs won’t make Kyle Schwarber available in trade talks

Kyle Schwarber
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Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that the Cubs won’t deal Kyle Schwarber this winter, despite multiple inquires from teams around the league. Schwarber is approaching his first year of arbitration and will remain under team control for another three seasons before reaching free agency in 2022.

The decision comes on the heels of one of the strongest seasons of the 25-year-old outfielder’s short career. Over 137 games and 510 PA for the Cubs, he proved a passable defender in left field and batted .238/.356/.467 with 26 home runs, an .823 OPS, and 3.2 fWAR in 2018. He also led the National League in intentional walks, with 20, and bumped up his total walks from 59 in 2017 to 78.

Despite his marked improvements from previous years, Schwarber’s performance still left something to be desired — specifically against left-handed pitchers, who held the slugger to a paltry .224/.352/.303 with four extra-base hits across 91 PA. Still, it’s evident the Cubs feel Schwarber is capable of strengthening his splits in the years to come, and they might stand to get more value from him on the field than they would in a trade this offseason.

Of course, that’s not to say the Cubs intend to pass the Winter Meetings in total silence, especially as they’ll be seeking bullpen and catching depth in advance of their 2019 run at the division title. As club president Theo Epstein remarked last week, “We’re certainly open and active in trade talks with a lot of deals that usually don’t come to fruition. So, we may make some trades. We could make big ones that transform the roster. We may make smaller complementary ones. But there’s certain things we’d like to accomplish.”