Shall We Play A Game?

It’s important to understand the value of sacrifice when playing chess. Giving up your queen may not seem ideal, but oftentimes it can pay off in the long run.

For the next 5 months the Ranger brain trust will be locked into a massive game of chess with baseball’s 29 other clubs. Most of the hot stove activity will be minor – pawn for pawn, bishop for knight – but I’ve got something bigger in mind. (Aside from the Miami fire sale)

Here’s a hypothetical proposition that you can chew on.

The Trade –
The Rangers send Ian Kinsler (and possibly Nelson Cruz) to the Dodgers.
The Dodgers send Andre Ethier to the Rangers.

Why It Makes Sense –

  • There’s a good chance that Josh Hamilton is about to walk. David Murphy and Nelson Cruz could both do the same 12 months from now.


  • If you want some measure stability in the outfield, Ethier’s 5-year contract can provide it.


  • Assuming that Hamilton does walk, there’s also the matter of who will bat 3rd, ahead of Beltre.


  • Somewhat serendipitously, Ethier is already a 3-hole hitter. His left-handedness would go a long way toward balancing the right handed heavy Ranger lineup as well.


  • Ethier and Kinsler have comparable contracts ($85-million vs. $75-million guaranteed through 2017). They are also the same age (both will turn 31 next season).


  • Trading Kinsler would make room for Jurickson Profar, who could take over at both 2nd base and as a lead-off hitter.


  • Whether Profar is there or not, Elvis Andrus is still the best defensive shortstop on the roster. It might be smarter to team the two of them up, rather than using one to replace the other.


  • The Dodgers already have Matt Kemp, and Carl Crawford will return to action relatively soon. Moving Ethier would mean a little less money tied up in their outfield.


  • Cruz could be included to fill out the roster until Crawford is healthy. LA could then let Cruz walk after next season, if that’s what they wanted to do.


  • If no cash was sent west, Texas would save $10.5-million by throwing Cruz into the deal. That would provide a little more financial flexibility and allow the Rangers to look at other guys that are on the market.

Why It Doesn’t Make Sense –

The biggest killer here is Elvis, who seems intent on testing free agency after the 2014 season. The Rangers will have to bid hard to keep him and there are no guarantees. Profar might be good, but he can’t play both 2nd and short by himself.

With his combination of speed and power, Kinsler is still an elite 2nd baseman. Ethier, on the other hand, is not that special of a corner outfielder.

  • According to Baseball Reference, Kinsler has been worth 28.7 WAR since 2006. Ethier has been worth only 15.1.


  • Each player’s contract does have an option for 2018. Kinsler’s is a club option, which is worth $12-million (with a $5-million buyout). Ethier’s is a vesting option worth $17.5-million (with a $2.5-million buyout).


  • The most that Kinsler can possibly make is $82-million. Ethier is guaranteed $85-million and could make up to $100-million.


  • If you’re interested in keeping your powder dry, stick with what you’ve already got.


  • Kinsler has 143 major league homeruns. Profar has 1.


  • Kinsler has 157 major league stolen bases. Profar has 0.


  • As much as we think we know about Profar, he is still a largely unknown quantity.


  • Then consider that a vacated 2B might not go to Profar anyway.  (Remember when Kinsler DH’d a bunch of times last year? That was for Michael Young’s sake, so he could “stay engaged” or whatever. Prepare yourselves, my friends. We may have to watch that ship sink all over again.)


  • Ethier does not hit lefties particularly well, with a lifetime OPS of .649 against southpaws. (For some perspective, David Murphy’s lifetime OPS vs. lefties is .675.)


  • If Kinsler were traded, there is a chance that SDI’s own Emily Cates would burn Arlington to the ground. I’m not saying that would happen, but there is a chance.


Frankly, I’m not sure this deal makes sense for either club, so I’m not really arguing for or against it.

But, y’know, it is fun to think about these things.

Press on, Rangers fans.

Mike Luna is a Staff Writer for ShutDowninning.com. He can be reached at Mike.Luna@shutdowninning.com or on Twitter @twbbg.
Mike Luna

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