Second baseman Ian Kinsler will reportedly be leaving the Boston Red Sox to sign a free agent deal with the San Diego Padres.
The Boston Red Sox are losing another player from their championship roster as second baseman Ian Kinsler appears to be heading West.
The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports that Kinsler has agreed to a two-year, $8 million deal with the San Diego Padres.
The decision to leave town comes as no surprise considering the Red Sox never showed more than lukewarm interest in re-signing the veteran second baseman. The club is still clinging to hope that Dustin Pedroia will bounce back from a lost season to reclaim his role as the primary second baseman.
Boston acquired Kinsler in a mid-season trade with the Los Angeles Angels to solidify their shaky infield defense in the absence of Pedroia. The four-time All-Star is a shell of his former self at the plate, producing only a .242/.294/.311 line in 37 games with the Red Sox. The former 30/30 club member tallied only 14 home runs and 16 steals in 128 games split between LA and Boston. Only one of those homers came while wearing a Red Sox uniform.
While his bat may be in sharp decline, Kinsler hasn’t lost a step in the field. He led the league at his position with 10 defensive runs saved and sported a solid .983 fielding percentage to secure his second career Gold Glove award.
Even if Kinsler continues to regress at the plate, $4 million per year on a short-term deal is a bargain for an elite defensive second baseman who can provide valuable veteran leadership to a rebuilding Padres clubhouse.
You can understand why the Red Sox weren’t more aggressive pursuing Kinsler with the expectation that Pedroia will return to take his place, similar to how Pedroia took Kinsler’s spot when they played college ball at Arizona State. Likewise, you can see why Kinsler wasn’t willing to stick around without a stable role available.
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Still, counting on Pedroia is risky. The Red Sox may end up kicking themselves for letting the sure-handed Kinsler leave if Pedroia struggles or suffers another setback.
They may have secretly hoped Kinsler would find a stagnant free agent market that left him waiting for a job deeper into the offseason, by which point they might have a better idea of Pedroia’s status. Those hopes were dashed with the Padres scooping up Kinsler almost immediately after the conclusion of this week’s Winter Meetings.
Boston still has Brock Holt, Eduardo Nunez, Tzu-Wei Lin among the 40-man roster options to back up Pedroia at second base. Granted, those same underwhelming options led them to trade for Kinsler in July. If Pedroia doesn’t return to form, the Red Sox may need to seek another deadline deal next season.
Kinsler clearly appreciated his time here and the opportunity to win a World Series after falling just short a couple times with the Texas Rangers. It was a short stint in Boston but a memorable one for the veteran second baseman.