Around this time last year, the Yankees designated Brian Roberts for assignment and traded Kelly Johnson to the Red Sox for Stephen Drew. At the time, it seemed like almost anyone would be a better second baseman than Roberts, and the team didn't really lose anything in the trade for Drew. Somehow, Drew ended up hitting worse than Roberts and still inked a deal for 2015 with the Yankees. We've officially passed the halfway point in the season and Drew is offensively the worst player on the team. The Yankees need to make an upgrade before the trade deadline, and word on the street is that the Tigers might be selling. Should the Yankees consider trading for Ian Kinsler?
The only good thing about the Yankees' current situation at second base is that Drew's contract will expire at the end of the season. Joe Girardi can say all he wants about how Drew is hitting the ball better than his average shows, and how Drew is part of the reason the Yankees are in first place, but there's very little chance of Drew being a Yankee in 2016. During our potential trade target series, we've looked at the possibilities of trading for various second basemen around the league, from Brandon Phillips to Ben Zobrist to Daniel Murphy, but all of those players have a number of cons. Phillips is owed $27 million over the next two years and has been a mediocre hitter for several years. Zobrist and Murphy would both be short-term rentals since they will become free agents at the end of the season and the Yankees might have to give up too much in return. It's unclear whether the Yankees see Rob Refnsyder as their second baseman next season, or if they plan to sign a free agent, but the market for next season does not look particularly promising.
With that being said, it might be in the team's best interest to trade for a second baseman who does have a few years left on his contract, which makes Kinsler an interesting option. Similarly to Phillips, Kinsler is set to earn a lot of money over the next few seasons ($14 million in 2016, $11 million in 2017, plus a team option in 2018 worth $10 million). At 33 years old, the last year of that contract might not look great, but Kinsler is a very consistent hitter and has ended every season of his career with at least 100 wRC+. Through 403 plate appearances, he's currently hitting .277/.340/.392 with five home runs and six stolen bases. He's been worth 2.2 fWAR, and the only notable thing is that his power numbers are down this year (he finished last season with 17 home runs).
If the Tigers are looking to lighten their payroll, since they're trailing the Royals by 10.5 games with Miguel Cabrera out for at least four more weeks, the Yankees should at least see what it would take to get Kinsler. It sounds like Brian Cashman has no intention of trading any of the top prospects, but since the Yankees would be taking on a lot of the money left on that contract, they might not need to.
Should the team try to trade for Kinsler, let Refsnyder take over second base, or wait and test out the free agent market next season?