MINNEAPOLIS, MN: Jason Kubel #16 of the Minnesota Twins reacts to striking out against the Boston Red Sox in the seventh inning at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Red Sox defeated the Twins 4-3. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
The Arizona Diamondbacks seem to have overpaid for a player for whom they have little use, in what looks like this winter's weirdest deal.
So Mr. Grant Brisbee has already written, and written well, about Jason Kubel's new two-year, $15 million contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks. As Grant notes, there has to be a trade coming. Soon. Very soon. Otherwise, madness. Some specifics, via MLB's (semi-)official party organ:
Over his career, Kubel has split his time between the outfield corners. With the D-backs, it would appear that he would become the starting left fielder with Gerardo Parra being shifted to a fourth outfield position, or used in a trade to acquire another position of need.
Parra won a National League Gold Glove Award for his work in left last year, and he hit .292 with eight homers and 46 RBIs. His ability to play all three outfield positions makes him an ideal backup. How many opportunities there will be, though, remains to be seen. Center fielder Chris Young played in 156 games last year while right fielder Justin Upton appeared in 159.
It's still fairly early, but there's a pretty damned good chance this will winning the Most Bizarre Move of the Off-Season Award (Free-Agent Division).
The Diamondbacks are reportedly doing to pay Kubel $7.5 million per season in each of the next two seasons. He's been a major leaguer for five seasons, 2007-2011. According to FanGraphs, Kubel's been worth roughly $2.5 million per season. He'll be 30 next May. The Diamondbacks have a left fielder who's been worth roughly $8 million per season over the last two seasons, and who will be 25 next May.
Is Kubel capable of playing well enough to deserve $7.5 million? Sure. In 2009, Kubel played in 146 games, batted .300/.369/.539 and actually picked up a few points in the MVP balloting. His OPS+ that season was 136.
The problem is that Kubel's career OPS+ is 112, and if it's below 120 he's not helping you. Especially if you've got him playing in the outfield. In the National League, Kubel shouldn't be a left fielder, or even a first baseman. In the National League, Kubel should be a pinch-hitter. He should be the new Matt Stairs.
Instead he's apparently going to be the new Greg Luzinski, except without the durability or the consistency.
Look, there might be something we don't know about all of this. Maybe Parra's going to be traded. Maybe Kubel's going to be the best-paid bench player this side of Vernon Wells. Maybe Kevin Towers has made a deal with the devil.