The Indians have reached a deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks for outfielder Jason Kubel, who was designated for assignment on Tuesday. The team sent an unnamed minor league player and cash to Arizona in return.
Kubel is in the final year of a two year, $16 million deal (with a team option for a third).
He posted some very solid numbers in 2012, hitting a career high 30 homers with a .253/.327/.506 slash line. His OPS+ of 120 was the second highest of his career. But his 2013 campaign has been mired by leg injuries and inconsistency. Kubel has hit just 5 bombs this year with a slash line of .220/.288/.324.
Kubel should be familiar to Tribe fans – he spent the first seven years of his career with the Minnesota Twins, where he was utilized as a designated hitter.
The Indians have been struggling to put runs on the board all month, and the acquisition of Kubel is surely an attempt to provide depth (and perhaps a bit of a spark) to an unfocused offense.
But is Kubel going to be any better than, say, Mark Reynolds would have been? He is another potential contributor off the bench, but with just a month left to go is there enough time for Kubel to make enough of an impact?
One thing is for certain – he does provide the Indians even more flexibility on the offensive side of the game. Kubel is yet another asset for Terry Francona to plug into the lineup whenever he feels necessary. He could be a nice option as an occasional designated hitter, especially if he does remember how to hit the long ball. Perhaps some time away from playing the field will allow Kubel to heal and focus on getting things done at the plate.
The team must feel that Kubel can improve on his numbers up to this point in the season, which is why they traded for him. But is he really the type of batter that some fans and media outlets have been clamoring for since the team started declining offensively? Probably not. It seems like a lateral move for the team, especially after they let Mark Reynolds go earlier this summer.
With just a month left in the season and his contract ending after 2013, a gamble on Kubel won’t necessarily hurt the team – provided the price they paid wasn’t too high. But at this point, I’m not sure how it’s going to help the team reach the ever-elusive postseason.