Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler is on revocable trade waivers, per MLB Network’s Ken Rosenthal (Twitter links). As we’ve emphasized with recent reports of players going on August waivers, the fact that Kinsler is on waivers at all isn’t all that noteworthy. Most players, after all, will be on revocable waivers this month.
What is noteworthy about Rosenthal’s report, though, is that it gives a timetable for when a fairly plausible August trade candidate will either be claimed or pulled back off waivers (thus removing his trade candidacy). In this case, the waiver period is up at noon CST tomorrow. Any team that is awarded the claim would then have another two days to work out a trade; if no deal is made, the Tigers could pull him back or allow him to depart without compensation.
According to Rosenthal, the Brewers still have interest in acquiring Kinsler, though he’d have to approve a trade to Milwaukee — a team that is on his partial no-trade clause. It’s not yet known if Kinsler will even make it to the Brewers on the waiver wire — every American League team and all N.L. clubs with worse records will have higher priority — nor is it known if the Brewers would definitively place a claim. In the event that Milwaukee did successfully claim him, however, the no-trade clause would add another wrinkle to the already-difficult task the two teams would face simply to agree on an exchange. (For what it’s worth, he has indicated a general willingness to accept a deal, though there were prior indications he’d only approve one if an extension could be arranged as part of the swap.)
Kinsler would represent an upgrade for Milwaukee, with Jonathan Villar and Eric Sogard failing to produce with any consistency. But it’s not entirely clear just how much the team would be willing to pay in salary and prospects. Kinsler is earning $11MM this year, around $3MM of which is still due. He’s also controllable via club option for 2018 at a reasonable $12MM. (Note: some sources have the option priced at $10MM, but the majority place it at the slightly higher rate; see, e.g., here.) There’s a hefty $5MM buyout, but that won’t likely come into play. As regards the Brewers, Kinsler’s salary would represent a fairly big chunk of change for an organization that has opened each of the past two seasons with just over $60MM on the books, though Milwaukee has plenty of spending capacity available and would surely like the idea of landing a veteran without a long-term commitment.
Of course, the ability to control a solid veteran player for a solid price on a one-year term will boost Kinsler’s appeal to many other clubs that might consider a claim. Second base hasn’t been an area of much demand, but perhaps there are a few other clubs that could consider pursuing a move. The Angels stand out as a conceivable possibility, as they could use the help at second, are still in contention, and have targeted short-term veterans in recent years as a way to remain competitive while trying not to clog future balance sheets.
Milwaukee and others will surely have their limits in valuing Kinsler. He’s already 35 years old and has managed only a .245/.324/.388 slash on the year, swatting ten home runs after a surprising 2016 campaign in which he launched 28 and carried an atypically robust .196 isolated slugging mark. But he’s easily worth his salary and looks to be an appealing asset for 2018. Despite the currently subpar batting line, Kinsler is avoiding strikeouts as well as ever and is drawing more walks than usual. A boost in his current .259 BABIP would likely bring him back to being at least a league-average hitter — indeed, he has never ended a regular season with a wRC below the league mean. And Kinsler still grades as a premium defender, making him a high-quality regular even if his batting productivity erodes somewhat.