One of the best parts of the baseball offseason are all of the rumors floating about. With possible free agent signings, potential trades and the general anticipation of waiting for one’s favorite team to make a move, it is a time like no other. Sometimes, these rumors amount to nothing more than speculation, just an idea thrown out to see if it gets a reaction. Other times, those rumors become persistent, making what was once an idle rumor appear to be a near certainty.
Right now, that may be the case with the rumors surrounding Ian Kinsler and Billy Butler. Both players are thought to be on the trade block, albeit for different reasons. Kinsler is thought to be considered expendable in Texas due to the presence of Jurickson Profar and Elvis Andrus up the middle, forming a young double play combination that the Rangers could build around. Moving Butler, meanwhile, would allow the Royals more financial flexibility, as they would no longer be on the hook for the over $20 million that would be due in the next two seasons.
Yet, both players would fill a need for the other team. The Royals need a second baseman that can do things that have not been seen there in quite some time, such as hit. Kinsler, despite what was a down season for him in 2013, still put together a solid .277/.344/.413 batting line, which ranked among the top five second basemen in baseball. Kinsler has also been steady with the glove, consistently rating out as a top five defensive second baseman. Locked up for five more seasons, Kinsler could solidify second base for the foreseeable future.
Butler, meanwhile, would help the Rangers replace some of the offense they have lost over the past few seasons. With Nelson Cruz as a free agent and Josh Hamilton having departed, Texas could use a bat in the lineup that is likely to be penciled in for a .300/.370/.470 batting line. His long awaited power could even break through playing in Arlington, where the ball flies out much easier than it does at Kauffman.
Of course, there are potential problems on both sides. Butler is essentially a designated hitter at this point, having played no more than 20 games in the field since 2010. Kinsler has had a history of injuries, and is not a given to remain healthy. He also would cost $69 million over the next five seasons. While that salary is a bargain for a potential top second baseman, it may be more than the Royals would be willing to commit. However, if the Rangers were to offer to help pay part of that salary, then Kinsler could become a viable target.
Even though a swap of Ian Kinsler for Billy Butler may not happen as a one for one trade, it may be a starting point. The Royals would likely want the Rangers to send over some money to help defray the cost of Kinsler’s salary, while the Rangers would likely want a prospect or two in return. However, to get a player such as Kinsler to slot in the middle of the lineup, it may be worth it to give up a couple of prospects.
The Royals are in need of an upgrade at second base, and Ian Kinsler would certainly be that. If he is really on the market, maybe the Royals can swing a deal for Kinsler to bring him into the fold.