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Kinsler major 2B upgrade for revamped Halos

Position no longer weak spot as 4-time All-Star takes over
MLB.com @mi_guardado

With the start of Spring Training drawing closer, anticipation is building for the 2018 season. Pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to Tempe, Ariz., by Feb. 13, so it's time to break down the Angels' roster.

This is the second installment of the Around the Horn series taking a position-by-position look at the projected starters and backups. We've examined the Angels' situation behind the plate. Today we'll focus on second base.

With the start of Spring Training drawing closer, anticipation is building for the 2018 season. Pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to Tempe, Ariz., by Feb. 13, so it's time to break down the Angels' roster.

This is the second installment of the Around the Horn series taking a position-by-position look at the projected starters and backups. We've examined the Angels' situation behind the plate. Today we'll focus on second base.

ANAHEIM -- The Angels filled one of their biggest needs of the offseason last month, acquiring veteran second baseman Ian Kinsler from the Tigers in exchange for prospects Wilkel Hernandez and Troy Montgomery.

After receiving a Major League-low .592 OPS out of their second basemen in 2017, the Angels were in dire need of an upgrade, and they found one in Kinsler, one of the most established players at his position who decided to waive his no-trade clause to come to Anaheim.

With only one year left on his contract, Kinsler is another short-term fix at second, but the Angels found the cost for him more palatable compared to other targets with more years of control.

Video: Eppler discusses acquiring Kinsler from the Tigers

A four-time All-Star and 2016 Rawlings Gold Glove Award winner, Kinsler is a career .273 hitter with a .789 OPS and has averaged 23 home runs over his 12 seasons in the Majors. Still, the 35-year-old is coming off a down year, batting .236 with a .725 OPS and 22 homers for the Tigers.

Last month, Kinsler suggested that transitioning from a rebuilding team to a contender could help reinvigorate him in 2018.

"Last year was a tough year for the whole organization, myself included, in Detroit," Kinsler said. "But when you get on a club where there's excitement and you have a bunch of really good baseball players, it ups your intensity and focus. I'm excited, and I look to perform the same way I have my whole career, minus last year."

Kinsler's defense has remained strong as he's gotten older, as he was a Gold Glove finalist last year and ranked second among qualified second basemen in both Defensive Runs Saved (6) and Ultimate Zone Rating (6.1), according to FanGraphs. Kinsler will team up with shortstop Andrelton Simmons to give the Angels one of the better double-play combinations in the Majors.

Fellow newcomer Zack Cozart is expected to be the Angels' primary third baseman this season, but he'll also serve as a backup to Kinsler. Cozart exclusively played shortstop over his seven years with the Reds, but he made some appearances at second in the Minors and had expressed a willingness to shift to the position before the club acquired Kinsler. Kaleb Cowart, who started 28 games at second for the Halos last season, is another backup option.

Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com.

Los Angeles Angels, Kaleb Cowart, Zack Cozart, Ian Kinsler