Jason Kubel Rumors
The Mariners are meeting with agent Scott Boras today in Nashville, according to Danny Knobler of CBS Sports (via Twitter). While it's not clear exactly which player or players the two sides are discussing, Knobler notes, as we heard earlier today, that the M's have some interest in Michael Bourn.
Although Seattle seems to be considering Bourn, the team's focus this offseason has primarily been on corner outfielders. As such, it's not a huge surprise that Knobler also reports (via Twitter) that the Mariners have spoken to the Diamondbacks about Jason Kubel. The D-Backs are said to be listening to offers on Kubel, though it's not known how strong the Mariners' interest is.
Here are the latest hot stove items from FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal....
- Teams in search of bullpen help have been looking at Royals right-handers Greg Holland and Aaron Crow, though Kansas City isn't likely to trade any of its Major League players unless they can move Jeff Francoeur.
- The Royals bolstered their pitching staff by re-signing Jeremy Guthrie and trading for Ervin Santana, but Rosenthal still feels the team needs a true ace.
- The Phillies are interested in free agent reliever Koji Uehara.
- The Diamondbacks could deal Jason Kubel instead of Justin Upton, which would be an easier move to make though Kubel would bring back a lesser return. A source tells Rosenthal that the Rangers are still interested in Upton but are waiting for the D'Backs to back down on their demands for Elvis Andrus or Jurickson Profar in return.
- Denard Span could be a good trade target for a club that doesn't want to pay for one of the expensive center fielders on the free market. With the Twins desperate for pitching, Rosenthal speculates that a team like the Braves (who need a center fielder and have pitching depth) could be a trade partner.
- The free agent catching market is stalled since the Red Sox and Blue Jays have catchers available for trade, plus the Yankees are waiting to address their pitching before making a decision on Russell Martin.
- Speaking of the Blue Jays' catching depth, Rosenthal thinks that Toronto is in no hurry to deal J.P. Arencibia, as a dependable catcher is needed if top prospect Travis D'Arnaud hasn't recovered from his season-ending knee injury.
- Reed Johnson is drawing interest from several teams, including the Braves, who acquired Johnson from the Cubs last July.
The Diamondbacks are weighing whether Jason Kubel or Gerardo Parra is a better fit as their everyday left fielder in 2012, GM Kevin Towers tells Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. The Snakes are also looking for help at shortstop and third base this winter, and Towers said those decisions will affect the direction that Arizona takes in left field.
"When you put a club together, it’s more of a puzzle,” Towers said. “What you do at short and third maybe changes what your need is in left. If you get more offense on the corner, then maybe there’s more of a premium for the defender in left. If you don’t get the offense and you get the defense in the infield, you have to have your power somewhere."
Piecoro projects the 2013 D'Backs outfield as Justin Upton remaining with the team and playing right field, Adam Eaton playing center, and one of Kubel or Parra in left, leaving A.J. Pollock as the fourth outfielder. The loser of the Kubel/Parra decision would become expendable along with Chris Young, who has already been rumored to be on the trading block. Young is owed $8.5MM in 2013 and his $11MM option for 2014 carries a $1.5MM buyout, and Piecoro reports that the D'Backs expect to eat some of that money in any Young trade.
Kubel signed a two-year, $15MM deal with Arizona last December and he hit 30 homers with a .253/.328/.506 batting line in 2012, though he slumped in the second half of the season, posting just a .745 OPS after the All-Star break. Parra posted a .727 OPS in 430 plate appearances last year and provided his usual excellent glovework, recording a +13.8 UZR/150 rating. It's a clear choice between hitting and defense for the Snakes, though contracts also play a role --- while Kubel will earn $7.5MM next year, Parra is arb-eligible for the second time this winter and is under control through 2015 as a Super Two player.
Towers mentioned how defense was an important factor at Chase Field and that he wanted the team to be less reliant on home runs, leaving Piecoro to speculate that this could mean the D'Backs could move away from Kubel in left and Chris Johnson at third base.
In other team news, Piecoro hears that Trevor Bauer isn't likely to be traded. D'Backs managing general partner Ken Kendrick sounded critical of Bauer last week, leading to some speculation that the team had soured on the highly-touted 21-year-old. If Arizona actually did make Bauer available, the 2011 third overall pick would instantly become one of the biggest trade chips on the market this offseason.
The chances of Justin Upton, Chris Young, Jason Kubel, Gerardo Parra and Adam Eaton returning to the Diamondbacks’ outfield in 2013 seem slim, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney writes. One or more of those players will likely be moved in trades. Here are the details on Arizona’s offseason plans...
- Rival executives believe the Diamondbacks will trade Young this offseason. Some say they expected Arizona to let Young go on waivers if he had been claimed last month. The center fielder will earn $8.5MM in 2013 and his contract includes a 2014 option with a $1.5MM buyout.
- Some rival executives sense that GM Kevin Towers is less likely to trade Upton this winter than he has been in the past. There’s no guarantee teams will meet Arizona’s asking price for Upton and there’s concern that the right fielder would blossom as a hitter if he’s traded elsewhere.
- Despite the Diamondbacks’ impressive core of young pitching, Towers would like to add a veteran starting pitcher this offseason, Olney reports.
Twins assistant GM Rob Antony discussed the team's offseason moves, players who signed elsewhere over the winter, plans for 2012, and more in an interview with Jesse Lund of the Twinkie Town blog. Here are some of the highlights...
- Michael Cuddyer was the Twins' "number one priority all off-season" but moved on once it became clear that the team wouldn't be able to re-sign him. Antony "always believed he wanted to be a Twin for his entire career" and thinks Cuddyer was "disappointed" to ultimately leave the team for Colorado.
- Jason Kubel shared his concerns with Antony about how Target Field is a tough stadium for power hitters, and the assistant GM believes this was a factor in Kubel leaving the team.
- The Twins dealt Delmon Young to the Tigers last season simply because the team put a priority on re-signing Cuddyer and Kubel, so they wanted to get some return for Young rather than possibly non-tender him after the season.
- Joe Nathan didn't give the Twins a chance to match the $14.75MM contract he received from the Rangers. Antony said there were no hard feelings about Nathan leaving, since the veteran closer was focused on playing for a contender. We heard in November that Minnesota's best offer to Nathan was "a bit less" than Texas' offer.
- The Nationals were "definitely interested" in Denard Span at the trade deadline last summer, but Antony doesn't "think we were ever close to doing anything."
- Antony said that some internet rumors about players on the trade market often lead to exploratory conversations between GMs about said players. "There are a lot of names that pop up where we do a lot of that same thing. 'Look, if you're looking to move this guy, he could be a fit over here. I don’t know what’s fact and what’s rumor, but if you are serious in trading a player we’d like to be kept in mind, we have some interest,' " Antony said. He brought up this point in regards to a question about Martin Prado, which would seem to hint that the Twins and Braves perhaps had such a conversation about the utilityman.
- Antony thinks Tsuyoshi Nishioka will give Alexi Casilla a strong battle for the starting second base job and that Nishioka "deserves a mulligan" for his tough 2011 season. Nishioka suffered a broken leg in his first season in the Major Leagues.
- "We have had more meetings with our training and medical staff this season than in the ten years prior to," Antony said in regards to how the Twins responded to last year's injury-riddled season. Still, Antony doesn't lay blame on the training staff: "These are the guys who were in place the year before, and the year before, and the year before that, so it’s not like all of a sudden they don’t know how to do their job. And last year, it was a perfect storm of everything that could do wrong, did go wrong."
The Diamondbacks' signing of Jason Kubel to a two-year contract was met with surprise and even some confusion from pundits. Dave Cameron of Fangraphs described the move as "weird," arguing that Kubel was potentially only a minor upgrade over incumbent left fielder Gerardo Parra at the plate, and a major downgrade in terms of defense and baserunning. Moreoever, it minimized Parra, whose Gold Glove-winning defense and steady bat played a key role in Arizona's 2011 NL West title.
So with Kubel, Chris Young and Justin Upton locked in as the D'Backs' starting outfield, does this mean Parra could be expendable? Not at all; there's still reason to believe Parra will be a valuable player for Arizona both in 2012 and potentially for years to come.
Through three seasons in the Majors, Parra has provided both excellent defense (a career +9.5 UZR/150) all over the outfield and a solid bat against right-handed pitching (a .289/.337/.420 career line against righties). In both 2010 and 2011, the left-handed hitting Parra posted a higher OPS against lefties than he did against righties, albeit in roughly a quarter of the plate appearances.
This progress against southpaws notwithstanding, the vast majority of Parra's 2012 at-bats will come against right-handers. D'Backs GM Kevin Towers has already stated that Parra see action against certain tough right-handers spelling Upton and Young. I'd say Parra is far more likely to spell the latter than the former, since Upton may be the cusp of superstardom and Young has more significant flaws in his game.
After delivering stable splits (an .826 OPS vs. lefties, .781 vs. righties) in 2010 as part of a career-best .793 OPS season across the board, it seemed as if Young was finally finding some consistency to match his big power, speed and increasingly impressive glove. Unfortunately for Young, he reverted to his old tricks in 2011 --- he hit just .222/.312/.382 against right-handers, as compared to a mammoth .285/.392/.546 against lefties. Arizona doesn't lose anything defensively or speed-wise by playing Parra over Young in what could develop into a regular center field platoon.
Parra doesn't turn 25 until May 6 and is under team control through 2015, which means he could be coming into his prime just as Young and Kubel's contracts are expiring. Young is set to earn $15.5MM over the next two seasons, with a club option worth $11MM for 2014 (with a $1.5MM buyout), while Kubel's deal pays him $16MM over the next two seasons with a $7.5MM mutual option for 2014 ($1MM buyout). Of the two, Young is the likelier to remain a D'Back since quality defensive center fielders with 30-homer power are a much rarer commodity than what Kubel brings to the table, but the presence of Parra and prospect A.J. Pollock gives the team lots of outfield flexibility in two years' time.
The Diamondbacks' surprising playoff berth last season turned what was seemingly a rebuilding team into a win-now operation, as evidenced by Kubel's signing and the trade for Trevor Cahill. While the club doesn't have the resources to just eat a $16MM contract if Kubel struggles, the D'Backs at least have a quality backup (or more) in Parra who provides too much value to trade.
The Diamondbacks have signed outfielder Jason Kubel, tweets Tom Krasovic. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, who confirmed the agreement earlier today, now tweets that it's official and that Kubel has passed his physical. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports says the deal is worth $15MM. The Wasserman Media Group client obtained a two-year deal with a mutual option for 2014.
Kubel, 29, will play left field for the Diamondbacks according to Rosenthal. The surprising acquisition likely pushes Gerardo Parra to a fourth outfielder role, meaning Arizona is sacrificing defense and hoping for more offense. Perhaps Parra, a 2011 Gold Glove winner, will become a trade target for other clubs. Kubel hit .273/.332/.434 in 401 plate appearances for the Twins this year, missing nearly two months with a left foot sprain.
Kubel spent his entire career with the Twins after being drafted in the 12th round in 2000. His best season came in 2009, when he hit .300/.369/.539 with 28 home runs. The Twins signed him to a two-year, $7.2MM extension in January of '09 and later exercised a $5.25MM option for 2011. The Twins had interest in re-signing him, especially after Michael Cuddyer inked a deal with Colorado. The Indians and Phillies also inquired on Kubel this offseason. The Twins will receive a supplemental draft pick for their loss.
Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers has committed $36.75MM this offseason to free agents Kubel, Aaron Hill, Willie Bloomquist, John McDonald, Takashi Saito, Henry Blanco, and Lyle Overbay, as our free agent tracker shows. He also acquired Trevor Cahill and Craig Breslow in a trade with the Athletics.
Photo courtesy of Icon SMI.
The Reds acquired Mat Latos over the weekend, but they continue to search for a closer and a left fielder, Mark Sheldon of MLB.com reports. GM Walt Jocketty explained that he expects to add an arm before he adds a bat.
"First, we'll address the bullpen a little bit," he said. "Once I get pitching done and know what we have left to spend, we'll know more about left field."
The Reds have resumed talks with free agent closer Francisco Cordero, though Jocketty says nothing is close. Free agent outfielder Cody Ross is still "part of the mix" and the Reds were in touch with his agent last week. The Reds had some interest in Jason Kubel before he agreed to a two-year, $15MM deal with the Diamondbacks. "The level money-wise, we weren't going to get to that level," Jocketty said.
- Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic spoke to D'Backs GM Kevin Towers, who said outfielder Gerardo Parra "is still very much a part of this club and was a big part last year." Parra, a 2011 Gold Glove winner, will likely be pushed to a fourth outfielder role.
- Kubel will earn $7.5MM in each of the 2012 and '13 seasons, tweets Piecoro, and has a mutual option for '14 at the same amount with a buyout under $1MM.
- Dave Cameron of FanGraphs calls Kubel a "weird signing," saying that replacing Parra with Kubel is likely to be a net negative for the team. He doesn't think employing Parra as the fourth outfielder is a good use of resources.
- The D'Backs had once hoped to invest in Joe Saunders or Hiroki Kuroda, tweets ESPN's Buster Olney, but ended up allocating that money toward Kubel. The Kubel signing means the team is likely to round out their rotation with an internal candidate, writes Piecoro, although a cheap fifth starter signing is also possible.
On this day last year, the Padres traded Brandon Gomes, Adam Russell, Cesar Ramos, and Cole Figueroa to the Rays for Jason Bartlett and a player to be named later (though Tampa would eventually send cash instead). Here's some notes from around the league...
- The Reds have had conversations with Jason Kubel, according to John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer (via Twitter). GM Walt Jocketty told Fay (Twitter link) that the club does not have the type of money to sign someone to a Josh Willingham-type deal.
- Even after trading for Mat Latos, Reds GM Walt Jocketty still plans on using Aroldis Chapman as a starter, tweets John Fay of the Cincinnatti Enquirer. Jocketty did leave room for a change of heart, however, noting that things could change later on.
- We should soon find out which team won the bidding for Japanese outfielder Norichika Aoki, tweets Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post.
- ESPN's Keith Law feels that the Rockies overpaid for Michael Cuddyer, who he considers to be a part-time player (ESPN Insider link). In Law's opinion, Colorado is receiving perhaps a one win upgrade over Seth Smith, but paying $7-8MM more than Smith would earn.
- In that same piece, Law says that he likes the Twins' gamble on Josh Willingham better, but notes that he should be a DH rather than an outfielder and that the contract is still a gamble because Willingham showed signs of decline in 2011.
- Willingham told MLB.com's Jane Lee that leaving the Athletics wasn't an easy decision, but GM Billy Beane was honest and up front about the fact that he could probably only offer a one-year deal through arbitration.
- Juan C. Rodriguez of the Miami Sun-Sentinel provides some details on the heavily backloaded contracts that Heath Bell, Jose Reyes, and Mark Buehrle received from the Marlins. Bell's vesting option triggers if he finishes 55 games in 2014, or a combined 100 between 2013-14. He and Buehrle both took signing bonuses deferred withiout interest, and all three have contractual obligations to donate to charity each season.
- Law (via Twitter) prefers Aaron Cunningham to Cory Burns. The Indians acquired Cunningham from the Padres in exchange for Burns yesterday.