Kinsler back on market, 'ready for more baseball'

Kinsler back on market, 'ready for more baseball'

DETROIT -- The question surfaced for Ian Kinsler at the end of a long, frustrating season, one that culminated with former manager Brad Ausmus giving him a chance to manage the finale. After a year of trade rumors, leaving Kinsler one of the last veterans on a team that went 6-24 from Sept. 1 on, what does Kinsler hope the future holds for him?

"Um, more baseball," he said simply. "Try to take care or my body and be ready for more baseball."

That's about all Kinsler can count on at this point, and the coming weeks will tell whether the Tigers' season finale was his last as a Tiger at all.

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"There were a lot of rumors last winter. There were a lot of rumors during the season. There's going to be a lot of rumors again," Kinsler said. "So there's really no anticipation. You just prepare yourself as best you can for a 162-game schedule and that's really it."

When Tigers officials gather in Orlando next week for baseball's General Managers Meetings, they'll have a similar approach as during last year's meetings, eyeing trades of their veterans. The key difference is that the rebuilding effort they were anticipating a year ago is now underway, and there are fewer veterans to trade, with Kinsler topping the list.

The Tigers tried to trade Kinsler near the non-waiver Trade Deadline. He was claimed on trade waivers in August, but no deal came close. There are reasons to believe the Tigers can work out a trade this winter.

For one, the field of potential suitors has not diminished. The Brewers were interested in Kinsler last summer before trading for Neil Walker, who is now a free agent. So is Brandon Phillips, whom the Angels acquired at the end of August. Meanwhile, Dustin Pedroia's recent knee surgery is expected to keep him out for at least the first month of next season. The Red Sox are expected to try to fill the void internally, but team president Dave Dombrowski knows Kinsler well, having acquired him as Tigers president/GM in 2013.

Second, the situation has changed around Kinsler. The 35-year-old still holds a no-trade list of 10 teams to which he cannot be dealt without his approval, and was able to update that list at season's end. When trade rumors first surfaced last winter, that clause was leverage for Kinsler, and he was willing to use it to require financial compensation to accept a trade to a team like the Dodgers. The Tigers still had a star-studded roster at that point, and they ultimately decided to keep the team together for one more try.

That roster has vastly changed, and it's now clear that if Kinsler has any hope to get back to the postseason, it will be with another club. Kinsler's contractual situation has also changed, now with just next season left on his contract. He's now a one-year rental as opposed to a multi-year commitment.

Kinsler and Tigers GM Al Avila talked at season's end about his situation and the direction of the club.

"Basically just see what happens this offseason and take it from there," Kinsler said of what he learned. "I'm still under contract with the Detroit Tigers, and I need to prepare myself for next year."

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.