Ian Kinsler had the worst year of his MLB career at the plate in 2017, producing just a 91 wRC+, and yet was still worth 2.1 wins per Baseball Reference, and 2.7 per FanGraphs. He has just been dealt to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
Right now FanGraphs’ depth charts are projecting the Angels to be worth 35.5 WAR in 2017, the fifth highest number in the American League. The Blue Jays are sixth, with a projection of 34.6 WAR.
The Angels’ projection doesn’t include anything yet from Shohei Ohtani, nor from Kinsler — who, at a 2.7 WAR projection, compared to incumbent second baseman Kaleb Cowart, who FanGraphs pencils in for 595 plate appearances and 0.7 WAR — would push them up another two wins. If we’re reasonably conservative on Ohtani, the Angels are probably five wins better than the Jays right now.
Now, sure, these projections aren’t the be-all, end all. But they’re a pretty good shorthand for where the strength of each team’s roster is at right now, and with a couple more wins expected out in Anaheim — and Kinsler, whose BABIP was a career low .244 in 2017 (his career mark is .286), capable of being even better than that — comes very close to requiring a response from the Jays if their outlook for 2018 is going to move beyond pointless.
Of course, barring a sudden pivot the Jays will do something (and before you ask, no, it wasn’t likely going to be Kinsler, who used his no-trade to block a deal to Toronto years ago, and will be waiving that right to go to Anaheim — it probably wasn’t going to happen, even if they did meet the price). With Kinsler off the market, an infield suitor now out of the market, maybe that something happens soon.
Plenty of middle infielders still available: #Indians’ Kipnis; #Pirates’ Harrison; #DBacks’ Owings, Drury; #Phillies’ Galvis, C. Hernandez; free agents Cozart, N. Walker. Kipnis owed $30.5M including $2.5M buyout on 2020 option – and he currently is without a position in CLE.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 14, 2017
Dominoes are starting to fall.
UPDATE: And perhaps another reason to move will happen in tandem with this one (which, after some time in limbo, has now been confirmed):
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) December 14, 2017
Headley has been worth a couple wins in each of the last three years with the Yankees, though of that was powered by a .341 BABIP that pushed him to a 104 wRC+ this year. The previous two years he was at just 92 wRC+, and with better defensive numbers than 2017. So… maybe it works, maybe it doesn’t. But he’s yet another piece. He’s projected to 1.3 WAR by FanGraphs and an 89 wRC+, which is actually below what they have Luis Valbuena pegged for. Still, though, they’re pushing ahead of the Jays. (At the very least in Nightengale’s estimation, for whatever that’s worth.)
So, there’s that…