ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Ian Kinsler and the Texas Rangers finalized a $75 million, five-year contract through 2017 that locks up another one of the team's key players and makes the leadoff hitter one of the best-paid second basemen.
The player, who had stops at three different schools while in college before being drafted by the Rangers, is now in his seventh season with Texas. His new deal begins in 2013 and includes a club option for 2018.
"I had one backpack, one pair of shoes, hiked from college to college. It was a very interesting process," Kinsler said, smiling. "I got the chance (with the Rangers), and I wasn't going to regret it. I was going to give everything I possibly could to prove that I was a good player and that I belonged."
Kinsler is a two-time All-Star who twice in the past three seasons had 30 homers and 30 stolen bases. He has been part of the most successful seasons in team history, with consecutive American League championships that included a team-record 96 wins last year.
"That is really a big part in getting this done, a reason I wanted to stay here," Kinsler said.
The 29-year-old Kinsler is making $7 million this season. The Rangers had a $10 million club option for next season, but the new deal replaces that and will pay him $13 million in 2013.
"Anytime you can add a player of his caliber and his stature in the clubhouse and on the field, it's important to the organization and important going forward," team president Nolan Ryan said. "The fact that he's come through our system and we've had eyes on him for a long time and seen his growth and development and just see the role that he's taken here says a lot."
Kinsler is set to make $16 million in both 2014 and 2015, $14 million in 2016 and $11 million in 2017. The team option in 2018 could be become guaranteed at $12 million and includes a $5 million buyout.
When he signed his previous contract in 2008, Kinsler got $22 million for five seasons. That came a year after the Rangers gave Michael Young an $80 million, five-year deal through 2013.
"Kins is a very important player for us and he works really hard," Young said. "Kins is a dynamo at the top of our order. He sets a great tone for us. ... He's everything a leadoff hitter should be. Obviously we reap the benefits."
Texas selected Kinsler in the 17th round of the 2003 amateur draft out of Missouri after his stints at Central Arizona College and Arizona State. He was initially a shortstop before moving to second base in the minor leagues in 2005, a year before joining the Rangers.
Kinsler's deal comes after Brandon Phillips, another All-Star second baseman, got a $72.5 million, six-year deal from the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday. Atlanta second baseman Dan Uggla is the second year of a $62 million, five-year contract.
For the Rangers, it's another of their core players signed this year for multiple seasons.
Left-handed starter Derek Holland got a $28.5 million, five-year contract that includes club options for 2017 and 2018. Shortstop Elvis Andrus was given a $14.4 million, three-year contract that takes him through his salary arbitration seasons. Slugger Nelson Cruz got $16 million for two seasons.
Texas still has potential free agents after this season, including slugger and 2010 AL MVP Josh Hamilton and catcher Mike Napoli. Texas generally has avoided such negotiations during the season.
"I wouldn't rule it out, but we're not going to talk about it," general manager Jon Daniels said.
In his first six major league seasons, Kinsler hit .275. Even though he hit only .255 last year, Kinsler had a career-high 32 homers with 77 RBIs, scored 121 runs and had a .355 on-base percentage. He was 30 of 34 on stolen bases.
Asked if he felt he was one of the league's elite second baseman, Kinsler said it was tough to pat himself on the back in a room full of people and say that, but that he probably would if he was talking to someone personally.
Manager Ron Washington then leaned forward, saying "I will step out and say you're one of the best."
Texas and Kinsler had their first discussions about a new deal in early January and talked for several weeks during spring training, but Kinsler insisted on a self-imposed deadline of opening day. Before Friday's opener, Kinsler said he was focused on playing, but left open the possibility of his agent and the Rangers talking more.
"I just love to play the game. Honestly, I just want to be a ballplayer, play hard and let people know that I enjoy playing, and that's through my style of play," Kinsler said Wednesday. "It's never really been about money for me; it's about the joy of playing the game. And luckily I'm good at it."