Rangers and Ian Kinsler agree to five-year, $75 million contract extension

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Ian Kinsler said last week that he was “disappointed” that a contract extension with the Rangers wouldn’t get done by Opening Day, but the two sides were apparently able to bridge the gap over the past couple of days.

According to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Rangers and Kinsler have agreed to a five-year extension with an option for a sixth year. An official announcement is expected Tuesday.

Kinsler himself confirmed reports of the deal and added that it’s worth $75 million guaranteed, $5 million of which is a buyout on the option year. The deal kicks in next season, replacing the option year on his existing contract, and will keep him with the club through 2017 and possibly 2018.

Kinsler’s new deal will have an AAV (average annual value) of $15 million per season, which tops Dan Uggla ($12.4 million) for the highest among second baseman. However, it falls just under Chase Utley’s seven-year, $85 million contract in total value.

Kinsler, a two-time All-Star, owns a .276/.356/.470 batting line in the big leagues. The 29-year-old appeared in a career-high 155 games last season while batting .255/.355/.477 with 32 homers, 77 RBI, 30 stolen bases and an .832 OPS.

Orioles sign Alcides Escobar

Alcides Escobar
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The Orioles have inked shortstop Alcides Escobar to a minor league contract, MLB.com’s Joe Trezza reported Saturday. The deal comes with an invitation to spring training and will allow Escobar to earn $700,000 in the majors if he breaks camp with the team (via Jon Heyman of MLB Network). The team has yet to formally announce the agreement.

Escobar, 32, completed an eight-year run with the Royals in 2018. No longer the .280-average, 3.0-fWAR player of seasons past, he hit several career lows after batting .231/.279/.313 with four home runs, eight stolen bases (in 10 chances), and a .593 OPS through 531 plate appearances last year. His defensive ratings also took a hit, and FanGraphs pegged him as the fourth-worst shortstop in the majors after he accumulated -12 DRS over the course of the season, only slightly higher than the Orioles/Dodgers’ Manny Machado, Mets’ Amed Rosario, and Red Sox’ Xander Bogaerts.

Still, Heyman holds that Escobar is being considered for the starting gig this spring and could yet prove an upgrade over top prospects and infield candidates Richie Martin and Drew Jackson. At the very least, the veteran shortstop figures to stabilize the position given Martin and Jackson’s relative inexperience, as both infielders played to varying results in Double-A Tulsa last year and have yet to break into the majors. Should either player earn consideration for the position in camp, however, Escobar might still work his way onto the Opening Day roster in a utility role as he saw some time at third base, second base, and center field in 2018.