Newberg: Secondary market.

Patrick Kivlehan

You asked that other owner in your fantasy league a thousand times for Dodgers prospect Raul Mondesi (Sr.), and Expos minor league shortstop Wil Cordero and Marlins reliever Matt Mantei slightly less often, and you got nowhere.

If your cordless phone calls were even returned, they didn’t last long, as he inevitably tried convincing you that you should instead consider moving that former 62nd-rounder, Mike Piazza, for the second pick in the previous year’s expansion draft, Nigel Wilson.

Then that guy decided he no longer had time for Rotisserie League Baseball, and turned his team over to a new owner.

You got Mondesi.

I’m not suggesting Patrick Kivlehan is going to be Raul Mondesi — or even Nigel Wilson — and I’m not even sure Jon Daniels ever asked Seattle for Kivlehan before last month, when he was pinpointed as the player to be named later in the deal that sent Tom Wilhelmsen and James Jones to Texas for Leonys Martin and Anthony Bass.

But with all the GM turnover in the league, my thoughts turned yesterday — just as they did when the trade originally came down, in the Wilhelmsen context — to the idea that maybe Kivlehan is a Texas Ranger today only because he had a new General Manager that wasn’t nearly as resistant to moving him as his predecessor, under whose regime the player had blossomed from college senior draft selection to legitimate prospect.

In that report I wrote about the Wilhelmsen acquisition, I included a quote from a league exec shared by Joel Sherman (New York Post), regarding one of the side effects of the widespread changes at GM around the league: “What happens is that when you have new people, they do not view the talent left behind like the old people did. When you draft and develop a player, you tend to have a higher opinion and affinity for the player than someone outside the organization.  The new person doesn’t have the same ties and is more willing to trade them.”

Given his player development background, Jack Zduriencik, the longtime Mariners GM that Jerry Dipoto replaced at the end of the season, was probably particularly proud of the Kivlehan story.

When the Rangers drafted Jake Skole (1st round, 2010), K.C. Herren (2nd round, 2004), and R.J. Anderson (9th round, 2005) out of high school, they were able to convince all three to forgo opportunities to play defensive back in college (Georgia Tech, the University of Washington, and the University of South Florida, respectively).

Nobody drafted Kivlehan out of high school at all.

He didn’t even play baseball at Rutgers until he’d finished four years of football for the Scarlet Knights.  The strong safety asked the school’s baseball coach for a tryout, and the senior not only made the team, but ended up recording the first Triple Crown (.399, 14 home runs, 50 RBI) in Big East history. Kivlehan also led the conference in reaching base (.484) and slugging (.710 — sixth in all of NCAA Division I), and stole 24 bases in 28 tries.

He was drafted at season’s end by the Mariners in the fourth round (2012), signing under slot — because that’s what college seniors, without much alternative, typically agree to do.

Kivlehan was the Northwest League MVP that summer, putting up an .883 OPS with a league-leading 12 homers and .511 slug for Short-Season A Everett, playing third base. Baseball America listed him after the season as Seattle’s number 18 prospect.

In 2013, he hit .303/.366/.464 between the Low A and High A levels, and earned a brief assignment to the Arizona Fall League. BA then judged him to be Seattle’s number 12 prospect.

2014: A collective .295/.363/.507 slash line at the High A and AA levels, defensive reps at both infield corners and all three outfield spots, followed by a full-season AFL assignment in which he hit .280/.387/.473 and led the league in RBI (playing first base and left field). He finished the year as BA’s number 4 Mariners prospect.

This year, Kivlehan hit .256/.313/.453 for AAA Tacoma, hitting 22 home runs (seventh in the Pacific Coast League) in 123 games, with his season interrupted briefly by a summer stint with Team USA in the Pan Am Games, where he hit .342 with a team-leading three homers. After playing one all four corners and center field again during the season, he’s playing first base for Escogido in the Dominican Winter League right now, putting up a .310/.333/.448 small-sample line in his first 30 plate appearances.

Maybe most notable about Kivlehan’s AAA production in 2015 was that he hit .237/.288/.440 (319 plate appearances) before the two-week run with Team USA — and then .287/.352/.475 (199 plate appearances) thereafter. He got better.

The idea that a player could be away from the game completely for four years and succeed at such a high level in college, and then meet every challenge as a minor league hitter, had to make a scouting-first guy like Zduriencik unusually proud. Whether Texas was among them or not, I’m sure teams asked Seattle regularly about Kivlehan — who universally earns “off the charts” grades for his makeup as well — and I can imagine Zduriencik was regularly reluctant to seriously consider the idea.

For Dipoto, who has shown this off-season that he’s focused on improving his outfield defense (Martin and Norichika Aoki in, Mark Trumbo out), Kivlehan was probably less a scouting and player development success story than a four-corners bat at an advanced minor league age who may not profile as an everyday defender.

But as a guy who hits with power from the right side, presumably capable of filling a role that would allow Josh Hamilton to sit against lefties or give Mitch Moreland an occasional day off at first, Kivlehan — who was just added to Seattle’s 40-man roster and thus has three option years remaining — gives Texas a player who could compete with Ryan Rua for a meaningful big league role.

I was a big Mike Simms fan.

Consider this as well: Texas and Seattle made the Wilhelmsen/Martin deal on November 16, at which time the teams agreed that Kivlehan would be the player to be named later.

The Mariners put the 25-year-old on their 40 on November 20.

Texas could have asked Seattle not to roster Kivlehan, waited for the Rule 5 Draft (one week from today) to conclude, and either taken Kivlehan once he slid through the draft unselected (which would have preserved an option if he were to start 2016 on the farm, and more importantly kept another of the Rangers’ own roster spots open for the winter), or accepted a different Mariners player if Kivlehan did get popped in the draft.

The Rangers obviously wanted Kivlehan badly. They didn’t want to take the chance that they’d end up with a different player to be named after the draft, even with the upside that Kivlehan going unchosen on December 10 would have presented. slots Kivlehan in as the Rangers’ number 18 prospect. The website had him at number 4 for Seattle. There are layers to what that might mean, and it’s too simplistic to suggest that the Mariners should have been less willing to move him as a tack-on piece in the Wilhelmsen-Martin deal that arguably carried greater risk for them in the first place, in terms of both production and cost.

Kivlehan is most likely a role player, but could be a versatile one. I think he’s a more important piece to this deal for Texas than Jones was, and I thought that before the Rangers non-tendered Jones (and Nick Tepesch) last night. (Surely the intent is to re-sign Jones and Tepesch to non-roster deals.)

Two years ago today, the Rangers traded Craig Gentry to Oakland in a deal for Michael Choice.

In the past two weeks, both Gentry and Choice (now with Cleveland) were designated for assignment, slid through waivers untouched, and were outrighted to AAA. (Gentry had the right to decline his assignment is now a free agent.)

Sometimes you trade a player at what you consider to be his production peak, or at least at a point in his career when you believe his value might diminish going forward. Gentry and Choice, whom Texas and Oakland were very familiar with, presumably fit that profile, and Martin probably does, too.

Maybe Dipoto saw Kivlehan as a player whose present value he thought he could capitalize on, as one he had no long-standing ties to and one who wasn’t an ideal fit with what he was aiming to do with his roster anyway.

And maybe he’s a player Texas had been interested in for a while, one who fits a potential need, but had no success trying to acquire until his GM was no longer the one who drafted him and oversaw his development but instead a new man in charge, a development 2000 miles away that gives the Rangers and gives Patrick Kivlehan an intriguing new opportunity.


This contribution was provided by Jamey Newberg of The Newberg Report. The Newberg Report provides daily coverage of the Texas Rangers.