With Ian Kinsler on the move to the Angels, the Mets focus should be on Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis.
The Mets made their first move of the offseason on Wednesday at the Winter Meetings, when they signed Anthony Swarzak to a two-year pact. Now that the ball is rolling, the front office must turn its attention to the team’s other needs, mainly the hole at second base.
Ian Kinsler was presumed to be the team’s top target on the trade market, but he listed the Mets on his no-trade list, squashing any chance the team had at making a real play for his services.
So what exactly is Plan B? It would seem that there are multiple other options on the trade block that could realistically be making their way to Queens.
Mets are weighing kinsler, kipnis, Harrison, Hernandez (tho Hernandez would take a haul) for 2B. Castro not in mix.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 13, 2017
With Kinsler no longer available and Castro not in the mix, the remaining options seem to be Jason Kipnis, Josh Harrison, and Cesar Hernandez. Of these options, Kipnis is the man for the job, and the Mets have no excuse for not acquiring him.
When it comes to second base, source says Mets are actually more concerned about giving up talent (which is limited) than they are about taking on some money (go ahead, be skeptical). Anyway, that’s why the Mets have so much interest in Jason Kipnis.
— Marc Carig (@MarcCarig) December 14, 2017
Kipnis is the oldest of the three and had a down year in 2017. Add in that the Indians are known to be shopping him, along with the two years and $28 million left on his contract, plus the $16.5 million option for 2020, and you arrive at why he will come with a lower prospect price to acquire.
Hamstring ailments limited him to just 90 games and a .232/,291/.414 slash line in 2017. At first glance, that does not look like much of an upgrade, however, it is important to note the circumstances.
Beyond his injuries, Kipnis was also forced to move to center field upon his return, a position he had never played in his MLB career.
When you look further back than 2017, Kipnis looks like a much more attractive option. In 2016, when the Indians made a run to the World Series, Kipnis was at his best and one of the team’s centerpieces.
He slashed .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs and 83 runs batted in. He stepped his game up even more as the team went deep into the playoffs, hitting .290 with a .893 OPS and smacking two home runs in the seven-game World Series.
Kipnis is the type of player any team could use. He’s a two-time All-Star and has compiled a WAR of 3.9 or higher four times thus far in his career. At just 30 years old, Kipnis is a leader and willing to sacrifice for the betterment of the team as evidenced by his position switch in 2017.
The buying opportunity with Kipnis is too great to pass up for the Mets. The Indians are willing to trade him, which seems purely financially driven. Since picking up Michael Brantley’s $11 million option for 2018, the Indians money seems to have dried up.
Cleveland just let two of their key relievers, Joe Smith and Bryan Shaw, walk in free agency. They’re going to need to find options to replace them.
With Jose Ramirez firmly entrenched at second base, paying Kipnis for the next two-to-three years does not make sense for the Indians. Therefore, the Mets should just need to be willing to take on Kipnis’ contract to get this deal done.
Ultimately what this situation boils down to is this: Will the Mets accept paying Kipnis nearly $30 million for the next two years?
There’s absolutely no reason the answer to that should be anything but a resounding yes.