The Los Angeles Angels General Manager Billy Eppler continued his succesful winter thus far by acquiring four-time All-Star second baseman Ian Kinsler in a trade with the Detroit Tigers. Kinsler is in the final year of his deal making $11 million this season and adds an extra edge at the top of the order to a borderline playoff team.
Detroit received 18-year-old RHP Wilkel Hernandez and 23-year-old OF Troy Montgomery in the trade for the former gold glove second baseman. The Angels also added two-way phenom from Japan Shohei Ohtani, winning the sweepstakes for his services. Eppler has been building around the best player in the game, Mike Trout, trying to build a roster in the tough AL West that can play for it all in October.
Eppler struck a deal with Detroit GM Alex Avila last August acquiring veteran Justin Upton who has since been signed to a five-year, $106M deal solidifying the LF spot alongside Trout. Now another trade with the rebuilding Tigers adds a bonafide All-Star caliber second baseman to the top of the lineup where he can rejoin former teammate Upton. The Angels are one starting pitcher and bullpen arm away from being legitimate championship contenders with Trout and Ohtani.
Kinsler was very productive in his four-years with Detroit following the trade from the Texas Rangers where he spent the first eight years of his career including two appearances in the Fall Classic. Kinsler is a .273 career hitter with a .342 on-base percentage and .789 OPS and has 234 homers and 839 RBI’s to go with 225 stolen bases. With Detroit, Kinsler produced one of his better offensive seasons of his career in ’16 where he slashed .288/.348/.484 with 28 homers and 83 RBI’s as well as 29 doubles.
Kinsler’s defense and leadership alone make a deal for the veteran at this price worthwhile for Eppler and the Halos, but the potential to bounce-back from a career-worst .236 batting average and provide a legitimate force atop the lineup could help to really bring the Angels to the next level. Kinsler is a fiery guy who wants to win and knows that division and how to produce in those stadiums better than anyone else on the market.
Kinsler was the second baseman for the winning Team USA club in the World Baseball Classic just last March and was a key contributor is a star-studded lineup, something the Angels hope he can do for them in 2018 to finally get their club and the best player in the game to October. This move may just be the one that puts them over the hump.
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