by Matt Kremnitzer
reported on Saturday that the Diamondbacks “seek young pitchers” from the Orioles in exchange for Jason Kubel. Apparently, the O’s have balked so far at the Diamondbacks’ asking price, but they appear to at least be interested in the outfielder. But they shouldn’t be.
Kubel, 30, is a decent left-handed hitter with a career slash line of .268/.334/.467 (.344 wOBA). If you just look at that overall line, you’d think he could add a little pop to the O’s lineup. And maybe he could, if he’s used properly and depending on potential injuries. Kubel also destroys right-handed pitching, hitting .279/.343/.498 (.359 wOBA) for his career. But he doesn’t fare nearly as well against lefties: .238/.309/.383 (.306 wOBA).
He’s also a terrible corner outfielder with poor range who should be slotted at DH instead. For his career, he has a -46 UZR. He’s also not a fast runner.
Does Kubel’s skill set sound familiar? It should. The Orioles already have a DH-type player who can’t hit lefties: Wilson Betemit. Here are his splits:
Vs. RHP: .282/.349/.475, .354 wOBA
Vs. LHP: .228/.285/.352, .281 wOBA
Sure, Betemit is a switch-hitter, but that’s hardly helping him here – he actually hits lefties worse from the right side than Kubel does from the left.
There’s also the added benefit of the O’s already having Betemit locked up in 2013 for $1.75 million. (He also has a 2014 option of $3.2 million if he reaches 700 combined plate appearances in 2012 and 2013. He had 376 in 2012, so he needs 324 more, which is certainly within reach.) To acquire Kubel’s services, the O’s would need to ship at least a player or two to the Diamondbacks, and then they’d still owe Kubel $7.5 million in 2013. He also has a mutual 2014 option at the same amount with a $1 million buyout. The Diamondbacks could always send some cash to the O’s along with Kubel, but it probably wouldn’t be much. Either way, that’s a lot of money to commit to someone who wouldn’t add that much to the team and who really should be a part-time player.
Some fans believe Kubel could play some first base, but he’s never played the position at the major league level. Plus, he wouldn’t be much of an upgrade over Chris Davis, who, like Betemit, provides similar skills at the plate.
I’m not sure I completely buy the O’s interest in Kubel, and there’s nothing wrong with Dan Duquette exploring various trades. That is what he’s supposed to do, especially since it doesn’t seem like the O’s are going to spend a bunch of money this offseason. But then again, I didn’t believe the O’s would really trade multiple prospects last season for Dana Eveland and TaylorTeagarden, either. Duquette has made some smart moves, but he shouldn’t believe that trading for Kubel is one of them.