In a little bit of a surprising move, the San Diego Padres have reportedly signed Ian Kinsler to a two-year deal. His exact role with the team does not seem clear yet, but he will add a veteran presence to a youthful group.
The Padres have made a move to sign 36-year-old Ian Kinsler to a two-year deal with a club option for a third year.
The agreement, first reported by Ken Rosenthal, is set to earn Kinsler $8 million (pending a physical).
After successful stints with the Texas Rangers and the Detroit Tigers, Kinsler has seen his star fade more recently. Despite winning a World Series title with Boston, 2018 was one of his poorest seasons with the bat, as he collected a .240/.301/.380 batting line through 534 plate appearances. His wRC+ of 87 was a career worst, but with a strikeout rate of 12.0% and a walk rate of 7.5%, there are encouraging signs that the 4-time All-Star is still a capable hitter.
Surprisingly, Kinsler posted a WAR rate of 2.4, thanks to his defensive prowess and base running skills. He ranked consistently in the top five in defensive range (4.9), UZR (9.7), and DPR (2.7) among fellow second basemen, according to FanGraphs. He also boasts a +118 Defensive Runs Saved over his 13-year career and more recently added his second Gold Glove award in November. Kinsler continues to be a threat on the basepaths, swiping 16 bases in 23 attempts last season.
Despite the positives of the veteran infielder, the move to add him can be seen as a puzzling one by the Padres. Luis Urias is regarded as the second baseman of the future while Cory Spangenberg and Carlos Asuaje, two younger options at the position, were recently jettisoned from the roster.
Free-agent second baseman Ian Kinsler in agreement with the #Padres on a two-year, $8M contract with a club option, pending a physical, sources tell The Athletic.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 14, 2018
For now, at least, it appears that Kinsler is going to be the primary second baseman, as Dennis Lin reports that the signing makes Urias the current favorite to start at shortstop on Opening Day. But, with Fernando Tatis Jr. expected in the Majors sometime this season, Kinsler may very well see himself sliding over to third base at some point.
Ian Kinsler’s deal is expected to be finalized early next week. Luis Urías is now the clear, in-house favorite to start at shortstop on Opening Day. After Fernando Tatis Jr. arrives, I would expect Kinsler to spell Urías at second and whoever the third baseman is.
— Dennis Lin (@dennistlin) December 14, 2018
Surprisingly versatile, the 36-year-old can play many roles for the Friars going forward. For the moment, however, the Padres will have to make a corresponding move to clear space for him on their 40-man roster. As it stands, Jose Pirela looks most likely to get caught in the DFA limbo as A.J. Preller continues to overhaul the roster.