The Tigers appear to have a plan with Ian Kinsler.
Per Jon Heyman, Detroit will pick up Kinsler’s $10 million option for 2018 and the organization is expected to shop him hard in the offseason, “with the clear intention to trade him.”
“Word is,” Heyman adds, “(Kinsler) wouldn’t mind a deal.”
Kinsler, 35, said at the beginning of this month he wouldn’t mind being part of the Tigers’ rebuild. But it clearly makes sense for the team to trade him.
The Tigers won’t be competitive for the next few years and Kinsler would only block younger players, such as second baseman Dawel Lugo, from getting big-league experience.
In all likelihood, Kinsler’s 2018 option will vest automatically. Per Ken Rosenthal, his $10 million salary is guaranteed in 2018 if he reaches 600 plate appearances this season. With 538 plate appearances and 20 games to go, that’s an easily-attainable benchmark.
The Tigers shopped Kinsler last winter but didn’t receive an offer to their liking. They’ll have to lower their bar this winter. Kinsler is in the midst of the worst season of his 12-year career, hitting .236 with a .712 OPS.
He could redeem some of his trade value down the stretch, but he’s hitting just .179 in September, albeit with three home runs in his last four games.
At the turn of the month, Kinsler said he was focused on having a strong finish.
“Right now, I’m obviously not having a great year and I think this last month I want to prove to myself that I can continue to play baseball at a high level. I know I can, but I would like to see something happen,” he said.
As poorly as Kinsler has hit this season, he’s still an elite defender and a solid — if occasionally lackadaisical — baserunner. At a cost of $10 million in 2018 — $11 million if he wins a gold glove this season — there are certainly teams that will be interested in his services.
Kinsler has a limited no-trade clause and it’s been reported he won’t waive it without getting an extension from the team that acquires him. His stance might change, however, given the opportunity to join a competitive team.