08 January 2013

Orioles Should Pass on Potential Kubel Trade

by Matt Kremnitzer

The Diamondbacks have a surplus of outfielders, and Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com 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.


Matt P said...

Here's my question. What happens if Arizona trades Kubel and cash(5 to 6 million) for a young pitcher? Kubel is better than Betemit and especially is better than Robinson.

If you have a bench of Betemit, Reimold, Teagarden and Casilla then you've got depth. Especially if you can store Valencia, Robinson, Avery and Hoes in the minors. Teagarden isn't so good but at least the other three should give you positive production.

And if you feel that guys like Matusz, Arrieta and Britton are quickly running out of options anyway, well just maybe it makes sense to pull the trigger. Or maybe Johnson if you think he's a fluke.

But yeah, the two teams don't seem to match up well because Arizona would have to accept a small return. Probably why they didn't come to a deal.

Mike Bonsiero said...


I think the point of this post is that he's NOT better than Betemit or that if he is, he's at least not any better at what you'd be asking either of them to do it that role.

Essentially Betemit + Arrieta (or whoever) < Kubel. Especially since they're already locked into having Betemit on the team. You don't need them both.

h2h Corner said...

Yeah -- i dont get the Orioles refusal to use betemit as a righty masher -- he can do that and do that quite well. They should be going after someone who can handle lefties and play a little defense.

The O's dont need Kubel and the Diamondbacks cant use all their OFs, the O's should have all the leverage and shouldnt part with anything near useful if they pursue this.