A new name on the trade market?
There were a flurry of moves ahead of the expiration of the last Collective Bargaining Agreement, and no team was more aggressive than the Texas Rangers. They managed to steal away Marcus Semien from the Jays, but they had to handsomely reward him with a seven-year deal to do it. As I mentioned earlier, they also handed Corey Seager the offseason’s biggest contract so far, shoring up their middle infield for years to come.
What does that mean for Isiah Kiner-Falefa, who had a solid season in 2021? It could mean a position change to third base in 2022, or maybe that he ends up in a new uniform instead. He spent last season making 155 starts at shortstop for the Rangers, but he’s played plenty of third base in the past, so it would be an easy enough transition for him I’m sure.
Kiner-Falefa was quietly a valuable contributor in Texas last season, slashing .271/.312/.357 with eight home runs, 25 doubles, and 53 RBI, also swiping 20 bases on his way to earning 3.7 bWAR. A fair bit of his value comes from his glove work, and for that reason I’d be interested in seeing what he looks like as a second baseman. That said, if he were to join the Blue Jays they may prefer him at third anyway.
He wouldn’t bring a traditional power bat to third base, but the 26 year old still finds plenty of ways to bring value to his team. He has two years of arbitration eligibility remaining, and spotrac.com has him projected for five million in 2022, so salary obviously wouldn’t be a problem. The bigger hurdle would be seeing if the Rangers were willing to trade him, and what they’d ask for in return. I see Kiner-Falefa as an under the radar candidate that could make sense for the Jays, but not among the top three. Don’t be shocked if you see his name floated in the rumour mill if and when the lockout ends though.