The Angels began to emerge as an attractive destination for veteran second baseman Ian Kinsler four months ago, when his close friend and former Tigers teammate Justin Upton was traded to the club toward the end of the 2017 season.In conversations with Kinsler, Upton offered an endorsement of the Angels,
The Angels began to emerge as an attractive destination for veteran second baseman Ian Kinsler four months ago, when his close friend and former Tigers teammate Justin Upton was traded to the club toward the end of the 2017 season.
In conversations with Kinsler, Upton offered an endorsement of the Angels, praising the clubhouse and their style of play. The Angels' subsequent moves to extend Upton on a five-year, $106 million deal and sign Japanese two-way star Shohei Ohtani only further piqued Kinsler's interest.
"Just talking with [Upton] about the organization, they do things right, they play the game the right way," Kinsler said Monday during a conference call with the media. "Justin's loved his time there so far and I put a lot of trust in his opinion, so it obviously made me real interested in the Angels. And then, obviously, the signing of Ohtani just bumped it up even more. Seeing what [general manager] Billy [Eppler] had in store for this winter and the moves he was making to position himself to get Ohtani, I knew that winning was at the front of his mind. Anytime you see that as a player, you want to be a part of it."
Last Wednesday, Kinsler agreed to waive his partial no-trade clause to accept a trade to the Angels, who sent Minor League prospects Troy Montgomery and Wilkel Hernandez to the Tigers to complete the deal. Kinsler, a four-time All-Star and a career .273 hitter with a .789 OPS, should be an upgrade for the Angels at second base, though he is coming off a down season in which he batted .236 with a .725 OPS and 22 home runs.
Still, Kinsler, 35, said he thinks transitioning from a rebuilding team to a contender could help reinvigorate him for 2018.
"Last year was a tough year for the whole organization, myself included, in Detroit," Kinsler said. "But when you get on the club where there's excitement and you have a bunch of really good baseball players, it just ups your attention level, ups your focus. And I'm excited about it. I look to perform the same way I have my whole career, minus last year."
Kinsler said he is also looking forward to playing with new double-play partner Andrelton Simmons, who will anchor the Angels' revamped infield, which now includes Kinsler at second, Zack Cozart at third and Martin Maldonado behind the plate.
"I've respected [Simmons] from the other side for the last couple years," Kinsler said. "He's so fluid and he's so understated with his movements, you kind of lose track of how much range he actually has. It's going to be a great time playing with him, getting to know him, trying to put myself in a position to let him be as comfortable as possible and let him do his thing. I'm really looking forward to playing with him. I think it's going to be a lot of fun for us up the middle."
Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com.