Detroit Tigers trade 2B Ian Kinsler to L.A. Angels for 2 prospects

Anthony Fenech
Detroit Free Press
Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler bats against the Dodgers on Aug. 18 in Detroit.

ORLANDO, Fla. — The Detroit Tigers were not bashful about their plans.

When they arrived at the MLB Winter Meetings on Sunday, their goal was to trade second baseman Ian Kinsler.

During the first few days, general manager Al Avila’s lieutenants spread that word to teams throughout the lobby at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort. Each evening, Avila remained optimistic the Tigers would find a landing spot for Kinsler.

Now, it appears they have.

The Tigers have traded Kinsler to the Angels for two prospects, right-hander Wilkel Hernandez and centerfielder Troy Montgomery, according to multiple people with knowledge of the situation.

Montgomery, 23, is a .279 hitter in four minor-league seasons. He is the No. 20 ranked prospect in the Angels’ system, according to MLBPipeline.com.

Hernandez, 18, is an Venezuelan prospect with upside who has yet to advance past rookie ball. He is the No. 24 ranked prospect in the Angels’ system, according to MLBPipeline.com.

The return for Kinsler was limited by a number of factors, including his contract, the trade market and his no-trade clause. Combined, they gave Avila little leverage in negotiations. Still, the Tigers were committed to moving Kinsler as part of the next step of their rebuilding process.

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Kinsler, 35, is one of the better second basemen in baseball, despite a down season in 2017, when he hit .236 with 22 home runs, 52 RBIs and 14 stolen bases. Over his 12-year career, he has been a consistent player both offensively and defensively, hitting .273 with 234 home runs and 225 stolen bases. He is a four-time All-Star.

Kinsler is under contract for an affordable $11 million in 2018, but now more than ever, teams are interested in players with team control. He is scheduled to hit free agency after next season.

Between the trade and free-agent markets, there were more second basemen available than teams with needs at the position, and the teams expressing interest in recent days — the Mets, Brewers and Giants  — did not have deep farm systems. The small-market Brewers likely did not want to absorb Kinsler’s entire contract.

Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler throws out the Toronto's Kendrys Morales on July 15, 2017 at Comerica Park in Detroit.

But perhaps the biggest influence on trading him was his no-trade clause, which gave him some control in choosing his destination. All of the other teams interested were covered under Kinsler’s no-trade clause.

Kinsler's departure sheds another part of a disappointing Tigers era. Kinsler joined the team four years ago in a one-for-one swap with the Rangers for first baseman Prince Fielder. In four seasons in Detroit, he was solid at second base, a consummate professional who impacted the team’s play in many ways.

But despite coming out well ahead in the deal — Fielder played just parts of three seasons for the Rangers due to a neck injury —  the Tigers were only able to piece together one postseason berth in his time with the team.

Dixon Machado is expected to take over as the Tigers’ full-time second baseman next season.

Contact Anthony Fenech: afenech@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @anthonyfenech.