Rangers Extend Ian Kinsler

The Texas Rangers and Ian Kinsler have agreed to a five year contract extension that will guarantee the second baseman $75 million, including a $5 million buyout if an option for a sixth year isn’t picked up by the team. The deal replaces the $10 million club option that the Rangers had for 2013, and will keep Kinsler in Texas until 2017 and possibly 2018.

The $15 million average annual value makes Kinsler the highest paid second baseman of all time, far surpassing Dan Uggla’s $12.4 million. The deal is expected to act as something of a template for upcoming negotiations between Robinson Cano and the New York Yankees, and likely benefits Brandon Phillips as he works on an extension with the Cincinnati Reds.

In a vacuum, the deal anticipates Kinsler being worth 13 wins above replacement between the ages of 31 and 35. Assuming the standard $5 million/ WAR, 5% inflation, and a 0.5 WAR decline each year, this is how the contract works out for the team in a vacuum:

2013 – $15 million salary - $5.25 $/WAR – Paying for 2.9 WAR – Anticipating 3.6 WAR
2014 – $15 million salary - $5.51 $/WAR – Paying for 2.7 WAR – Anticipating 3.1 WAR
2015 – $15 million salary - $5.79 $/WAR – Paying for 2.6 WAR – Anticipating 2.6 WAR
2016 – $15 million salary - $6.08 $/WAR – Paying for 2.5 WAR – Anticipating 2.1 WAR
2017 – $15 million salary - $6.31 $/WAR – Paying for 2.4 WAR – Anticipating 1.6 WAR

It’s an incredibly safe bet for the Rangers, as Kinsler basically has to equal the production from his last three seasons over the five years after 2012, his age 30 year, to make the deal work out well for Texas. Over the last three seasons:

  • 15.8 fWAR according to FanGraphs;
  • 14.1 rWAR according to Baseball Reference; and
  • 15.0 WARP according to Baseball Prospectus.

And all Kinsler has to do is play like Ray Durham did in his 31 to 35 year old seasons.

When it comes to the Rangers specifically, it’s far from a stretch to suggest that Kinsler represents the team’s best overall player. While a lot of attention may go to Josh Hamilton and even Michael Young, Kinsler’s incredible balance of speed, power and defense make him an incredibly valuable part of the Rangers. It’s therefore not surprising at all that an extension of this size would be given to Kinsler before other players on what is shaping up to be the premier franchise in baseball.

With several top prospects scheduled to become Major League ready in the coming years, Texas continues to lock up the key cogs in their success to date without necessarily giving in to the demands of a sentimental fan base or agreeing to the type of legacy deals that often end up causing regret in front offices. They’ve made cautious decisions with Hamilton and even the recent contract given to Nelson Cruz, while also locking up some of the more underrated talent like Kinsler and Derek Holland.

General Manager Jon Daniels and the rest of the front office has not only shown that they can build a winning organization by making it to the World Series in both of the last two seasons, but they’re actions since finding this success suggest to me that they’ll be able to maintain that success.

Comments (9)

  1. Good deal. Kinsler is very underrated.

  2. I thought he could have got more, like 6+ years over $100 million.

  3. Solid. Great deal for Kinsler, and a great deal for the Rangers.

  4. Where does this $5 million / WAR come from?

    Wouldn’t this suggest that a .500 (or 81 win) team should cost $145 million? (81 wins is 29 wins above replacement @ $5 million per win = $145 million).

    • Only if every player was acquired via free agency. The $5/WAR figure only applies to free agents.

    • “Wouldn’t this suggest that a .500 (or 81 win) team should cost $145 million? (81 wins is 29 wins above replacement @ $5 million per win = $145 million).”

      Only if the team is made up entirely of free agents. That’s for the free agent market only, and doesn’t consider the way-under-market-rate talent every team has in players who haven’t reached free agency yet.

      • But doesn’t the cheap developing talent that sucks balance out the way under rate market talent that hasn’t hit free agency?

        How many wins above replacement can a team expect to have among guys that haven’t yet reached free agency or arbitration.

        It just seems to me like paying $5 million per win above replacement is a little high, even for a free agent signing.

        Do you have a link that breaks down the explanation (sorry I’m too lazy to look it up).

        • If you want to see how well a team can do without any major free agents, look at the Rays roster this year and the past few years.

  5. Roughly speaking, $/WAR is calculated by taking the total salary earned by all free agent-eligible players and dividing by the total WAR generated by those players. Some contracts work out better, and some worse, but that’s roughly the “expected” cost of adding production to the roster via free agency.

    Detailed 2-part FanGraphs analysis I haven’t entirely read is here:

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