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Jason Kubel Rumors
ESPN Dallas writer and reporter Richard Durrett, whose work was often referenced in MLBTR’s pages, passed away suddenly today. In one of his final pieces, Durrett wrote an excellent assessment of Alex Rios and his value to the Rangers as a trade candidate or member of next year’s club. As we commend his work one last time, MLBTR offers its deepest condolences to Durrett’s young family, friends, and colleagues in the press box.
Here is the latest news out of the American League:
- Rangers first baseman Mitch Moreland is “leaning toward” season-ending ankle surgery, GM Jon Daniels tells Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News. Moreland had struggled thus far in 2014, but his absence will still tell for a Texas club that has had more than its fair share of injuries. As Fraley notes, the 28-year-old could be a non-tender candidate.
- The Mariners are in position to begin full-on negotiations with first-round (sixth overall) selection Alex Jackson, writes Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune. As Dutton explains, both sides have strong incentives to get a deal done. Jackson’s spot in the draft comes with a $3,575,900 slot allocation, but at present Seattle can dedicate as much as $3,882,900 to the high schooler before incurring penalties, Dutton notes.
- Despite their obvious need for outfield help, the Red Sox appear to have little interest in the recently-released Jason Kubel, reports Sean McAdam of Comcast SportsNet New England (via Twitter). Kubel, 32, scuffled to a .224/.313/.295 line in 176 plate appearances in his return to the Twins.
- Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos took on a range of topics in a press appearance today, and MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm has a transcript. Addressing the team’s still-unsigned first-round choices (injured righty Jeff Hoffman and catcher Max Pentecost), Anthopoulos said that he “feel[s] very confident that [deals] will get done.”
- Turning to the upcoming trade deadline, Anthopoulos said that talks are still in a preliminary stage, with teams “calling to see what everyone’s needs are.” Strongly implying that Toronto expects to be a buyer, as one would expect, Anthopoulos continued: “I think the stage that everyone is at is, where do we have fits, what teams do we line up with and then the next step is, teams are out seeing our affiliates, or are going to see our affiliates.”
- Toronto is not necessarily just focused on adding a starter, Anthopoulos said. “[W]e’ve talked about every spot,” he said. “I was just on the phone with someone that, if they have a player available [and] we have a good player at that spot but that player’s an upgrade, we’d look to do it.” At this point, said the GM, “we’re just basically canvassing the clubs to see who’s available. In some of the conversations, players we didn’t think were available are, and we’ll see where the dialogue goes.”
- All that being said, the Blue Jays still seem likely to pursue rotation help. Indeed, the club sent a scout to watch Cubs‘ righties Jason Hammel and Jeff Samardzija in their most recent starts, reports Bob Elliott of the Canadian Baseball Network. On the other side of the coin, scouts from the Cubs and Rays were present to watch last Thursday’s outing for Jays’ minor league lefty Daniel Norris, along with the rest of the Class-A Dunedin squad.
TODAY: Kubel has officially been released by the Twins, reports MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger (via Twitter).
YESTERDAY, 12:59pm: The Twins haven’t yet released Kubel and have until the end of the official business day Tuesday to decide on him, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press tweets.
7:17am: The Twins have released outfielder/DH Jason Kubel, according to the MLB.com transactions page. Kubel was designated for assignment last week and his release seemed inevitable after (as MLBTR’s Zach Links reported) Kubel refused his outright assignment to Triple-A. The 32-year-old Kubel is represented by Joel Wolfe of the Wasserman Media Group.
It wasn’t a great return to Minnesota for Kubel, who only hit .224/.313/.295 with one homer in 176 PA this season. After spending 2012-13 with the Diamondbacks and Indians, Kubel rejoined his original club on a minor league contract that ended up guaranteeing him $2MM when he made the roster out of Spring Training, plus he earned another $300K worth of incentives.
2:16pm: Kubel will refuse the outright assignment, according to an update from Zach (Twitter link). Minnesota is likely to release him, leaving the club on the hook for the rest of his $2MM salary.
Kubel also earned $300K in roster bonuses under the minor league deal he signed over the offseason.
FRIDAY, 1:23pm: MLBTR’s Zach Links reports that Kubel has cleared waivers (Twitter link). Reports earlier in the week indicated that Kubel would not accept an assignment to Triple-A Rochester in the event that he cleared waivers, so it seems likely that he will instead elect free agency.
SUNDAY: The Twins have designated Jason Kubel for assignment, according to Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN (via Twitter). The move will help create room on the 40-man roster for the newly-acquired Kendrys Morales.
Kubel, 32, signed a minor league deal with Minnesota in December and made the big league club out of Spring Training. Unfortunately, Kubel hasn’t been able to regain the form he displayed for much of his original stint with the Twins. In 176 plate appearances this season, Kubel has slashed .224/.313/.295 with one homer.
For his career, Kubel owns a .262/.330/.448 slash line across ten seasons for the Twins, D’Backs, and Indians. Kubel is represented by Joel Wolfe of Wasserman Media Group, as shown in the MLBTR Agency Database.
The Twins‘ decision to sign Kendrys Morales is not only a short-term boost to the club but could have long-term benefits as well, writes Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs. While the Twins haven’t been good to this point, they’ve also been better than many expected, and adding Morales could help keep them in contention should other aspects of the team pick up. If not, Morales will become a valuable trade chip come late July. The elements of Morales game that scared other teams — rust and his price tag, specifically — will have faded, making him an above-average bat that can be added for a useful prospect.
Here’s more on Morales and the rest of the American League Central…
- The Twins‘ first call to agent Scott Boras regarding Morales came on Wednesday of last week, assistant GM Rob Antony tells Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (Twitter link). Three days later, the two sides had an agreement in place. Berardino adds that the deal is a testament to GM Terry Ryan’s recovery from skin cancer treatment, as Ryan handled the entire negotiation process on his own without any assistance from Antony.
- Berardino also tweets that Jason Kubel, whom the Twins designated for assignment to clear roster space for Morales, indicated to Ryan that he likely wouldn’t have interest in accepting an assignment to Triple-A Rochester should he clear waivers.
- The White Sox are confident that they will work out a deal to sign third-overall draft choice Carlos Rodon, reports Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com. GM Rick Hahn said that the club went after the top player on its board, and was not deterred by the fact that he is being advised by Scott Boras. “I tend to be an optimistic guy,” said Hahn. “I never anticipate problems. Look, in reality, we have a history with Scott, a positive history with Scott. … A fair amount of this concern, or discussion on how this could be difficult, I think is unnecessary and really not significant to us determining what’s going to happen here.” Rodon’s slot comes with a $5.72MM allotment, but was said before the draft to be seeking a bonus of over $6MM. With a shade over $9.5MM in pool money at the team’s disposal, Chicago could potentially use savings from other picks if it decides to go over slot for Rondon.
Jeff Todd contributed to this post.
Between now and Opening Day, several minor league signees will win jobs with their clubs and earn 40-man roster spots. Here are today's additions:
- After the Pirates optioned Andrew Lambo today, it appears that Travis Ishikawa will be in line for a spot on the Opening Day roster as a platoon mate for Gaby Sanchez at first base, reports Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune (Twitter links). He would need to be added to the 40-man roster in that case, though obviously there is still some time for an outside acquisition to intervene in that outcome.
- Outfielder Jason Kubel has made the Twins club, LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune reported yesterday on Twitter. He will need to be added to the club's 40-man roster to make that possible. As an Article XX(B) free agent, Kubel had to either make the Opening Day roster today or receive a $100K bonus to be retained.
Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has the latest on the Matt Garza-Brewers situation, reporting that it's still unclear what might have delayed things when the two sides appeared to be close to annoucing a deal. While some have posited that the club may be waiting to announce the contract until its On Deck fan fest on Sunday, nothing indicates that is the case, Haudricourt says, writing, "I'm not even sure that Garza is still in town." The situation appears to be little changed from Thursday, when MLB.com's Adam McCalvy reported that progress wasn't halted because of medical concerns. Here's more from baseball's Central divisions:
- Twins first baseman Chris Colabello discussed his decision to decline an offer to play baseball in South Korea with Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "A lot of people have told me: 'This is an opportunity you can't pass up,'" the 30-year-old slugger said. "I don't think I've ever chased money in my life. Why start now?" Collabello reportedly turned down an offer that would have paid him nearly $1MM this season and will instead compete for a Twins bench job. Another Minnesota farmhand, Andrew Albers, accepted an offer to pitch for the Hanwha Eagles of the Korean Baseball Organization earlier this week.
- Jason Kubel, back with the Twins on a minor-league deal, is well-positioned to make the club as a DH and corner outfielder, Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com writes. Jason Bartlett is another familar face who'll be competing for a Major League job, but he's seen as having less of a chance to make the team after missing all of 2013 with knee issues, according to Bollinger.
- The Indians have hired former Diamondbacks pitching coach Charlie Nagy, though they've yet to determine what his role will be, Paul Hoynes of The Plain Dealer reports. The 46-year-old spent almost all of his 14-year career with the Tribe, throwing nearly 2,000 innings for Cleveland from 1990-2002 with a 4.51 ERA. Hoynes says Nagy is likely to serve as an instructor in the club's farm system.
TUESDAY: Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports that Kubel will earn $2MM if he makes the roster out of Spring Training and can earn another $1MM via incentives. Kubel will earn $150K for reaching 300 and 350 plate appearances, plus $200K for reaching 400 PAs. He also will receive $150K for spending 30 and 60 days on the Major League roster and another $200K if he reaches 90 days.
FRIDAY: The Twins announced today that Jason Kubel is once again a part of their organization. Minnesota has signed the 31-year-old to a minor league contract with an invitation to Spring Training.
Kubel, a client of the Wasserman Media Group's Joel Wolfe, originally left the Twins following the 2011 season in favor of a two-year, $16MM contract with the Diamondbacks. The lefty swinger had a big first year moving from the spacious Target Field in Minneapolis to Phoenix's Chase Field, slashing .253/.327/.506 with a career-high 30 home runs. However, a great deal of Kubel's damage came in the first half of that season. Though he belted 15 second-half homers, he batted just .201/.275/.470 in the season's second half.
Things didn't get better for Kubel in 2013, as he slumped to a career-worst .216/.293/.317 batting line and found himself designated for assignment by the Diamondbacks. The Indians picked him up via trade, but Kubel collected just three hits in 18 at-bats for Cleveland (he did walk five times as well).
The Twins selected Kubel in the 12th round of the 2000 draft, and he reached elite prospect status in the middle portion of last decade, ranking 17th in the game, per Baseball America. A devastating knee injury delayed his arrival as a big league regular and likely depleted some of his speed and range. He's always graded out as a sub-par defender in the outfield, but his best overall season at the plate came for the 2009 Twins. Kubel hit .300/.369/.539 with 28 homers that season.
The career of the Rays' Tim Beckham, who was the first overall pick in the 2008 MLB Draft, hasn't gone as planned, but Beckham finally did make it to the Majors at the tail end of the 2013 season. 2014, though, may turn out to be a lost year for him, as he tore his ACL in his right knee, as Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times notes (on Twitter). Beckham, who turns 24 in January, hit .276/.342/.387 in 522 plate appearances at Triple-A Durham last season. Here are more notes from around the American Legaue.
- Yankees president Randy Levine's recent comments about Mike Trout and the Angels displeased Major League Baseball, Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News reports. In reference to Robinson Cano's ten-year contract with the Mariners, Levine said, "If Mike Trout was here, I’d recommend the 10-year contract. But for people over 30, I don’t believe it makes sense." That led MLB to investigate whether Levine's comments broke any rules regarding tampering with another team's players. Levine says he called Angels president John Carpino to apologize, and he considers the matter settled.
- The Orioles are still negotiating with free-agent closer Grant Balfour, but Balfour wants three years and the Orioles only want to give him two, Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun tweets. The Orioles indicate that they are willing to look elsewhere to fill their closer job if they can't find common ground with Balfour.
- The Orioles discussed a big-league deal with Jason Kubel's agency, Wasserman Media Group, MASNsports.com's Roch Kubatko reports. Kubel ended up signing a minor-league deal with the Twins, however, and Kubatko suggests that's because Kubel is very confident he'll make the team in Minnesota (Twitter links).
- After adding Robinson Cano, Corey Hart and Logan Morrison, the Mariners still want to add a starting pitcher, a reliever and another catcher, MLB.com's Greg Johns reports. They'd like to add relief help to offset the departure of Carter Capps, who headed to the Marlins in the Morrison trade, and they're looking for a catcher because they have just two, Mike Zunino and Jesus Sucre, on their 40-man.
Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press related the fruits of a phone conversation with Twins GM Terry Ryan in a series of tweets earlier today. Let's take a look:
- Ryan says that despite reports, the Twins haven't made decisions on whether to tender contracts to Trevor Plouffe, Brian Duensing or Anthony Swarzak, the club's three arbitration-eligible players. His comment on Plouffe in particular appears to contradict an interview from late October. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes examined the three arbitration cases in his recent Arbitration Eligibles entry on the Twins.
- Nothing has been finalized on a reunion with veteran scout Larry Corrigan, whose contract with the Angels expired at the end of October, Ryan adds. We'd previously heard that Corrigan would have a role with the Twins in 2014.
- The GM wouldn't offer comment on whether there's been contact between the Twins and Justin Morneau, saying doing so wouldn't benefit either side.
- Ryan was similarly opaque on the Twins' interest in Korean pitcher Suk-Min Yoon, telling Berardino that "there's supposedly a workout." Mike Radcliff, the team's vice president of player personnel, previously told Berardino that the Twins have "watched [Yoon] forever."
- In an article for the Pioneer Press website, Berardino reports that free agent Jason Kubel could be interested in returning to the Twins in 2014. Though the team's biggest holes are in the rotation, Berardino opines that Minnesota also needs help on offense after finishing with just 614 runs in 2013. Kubel, now 31, gave the Twins five consecutive seasons of above-average offense from 2007 to 2011, but slumped badly in 2013 for the Diamondbacks and Indians, hitting just .216/.293/.317 in 290 plate appearances.
The Indians have declined their $7.5MM club option on Jason Kubel, the team announced via press release. Kubel will receive a $1MM buyout, which the Diamondbacks are on the hook for following the Aug. 30 trade that sent him from Arizona to Cleveland.
Kubel was acquired for a PTBNL (later revealed to be Matt Langwell) and received only 23 plate appearances for the Tribe down the stretch. He collected just three hits in 18 official at-bats, though he walked five times, so he did manage to get on base at a .348 clip in his brief time with Cleveland.
Kubel belted a career-high 30 home runs in his first season with the DIamondbacks in 2012, but he slumped terribly and battled a quadriceps issue in 2013. Kubel spent two weeks on the DL with the issue and wound up slashing a paltry .216/.293/.317 between the D-Backs and Indians. Because he grades out as one of the worst defensive outfielders in the league, both Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference agreed that he played at a sub-replacement level in 2013.
This year marked the first time since 2006 that Kubel failed to produce an OPS+ of at least 105, so he's a decent candidate to rebound with the bat. His career-high in homers came in 2012, as I mentioned before, but his best overall season at the plate came in 2009 when he slashed .300/.369/.539 with 28 homers for the Twins.