The Arizona Diamondbacks surprised most people Monday morning with the reported signing of free agent OF Jason Kubel. GM Kevin Towers had said recently that he was set with position players and would focus on adding another starting pitcher and/or a reliever. Towers did sign Takashi Saito to the pen but instead of spending on a veteran starter he threw us a curve ball and went with another outfielder.
Kubel will reportedly sign a two-year deal worth $15 million with an option for a third year. The terms of that option have not yet been reported.
The D-backs outfield was considered "set" with Gerardo Parra in left, Chris Young in center and Justin Upton in right field. Kubel will likely move into the starting spot in left which either pushes Parra to the bench or perhaps makes him available to trade for another part of the D-backs puzzle.
Kubel, 29, has been an extremely consistent hitter in his seven seasons with the Minnesota Twins. He's a career .271 hitter with a solid .335 OBP and .794 OPS. Kubel hit over 20 home runs in three of his last four seasons dropping to 12 last year when he missed two months with a foot injury. He's generally known as a doubles hitter, however, who has solid strike out and walk rates.
The left-handed hitting Parra is a much better defensive player and winner of a 2011 NL Gold Glove, but Kubel, also a left-handed hitter, adds a consistent and proven bat to the outfield which would give manager Kirk Gibson more options in his lineup if either Parra or even Young is struggling.
We will have to wait for Kubel to pass his physical for a formal announcement by the team. At that point we will likely get to hear what Kevin Towers is thinking with this move.
The folks over at Fangraphs broke down the signing in great detail and concluded that it wasn't a smart deal for the D-backs:
Arizona Downgrades With Kubel Addition | FanGraphs Baseball
Overall, this is just a weird signing. The Diamondbacks didn’t really improve themselves, displaced a decent young player, and gave up about 10-15% of their payroll to make this lateral move.
They could potentially rescue this deal by moving Kubel to first base (where he could platoon with Goldschmidt), but it doesn’t sound like that’s in the plan.
In their chase for left-handed power, the Diamondbacks likely just wasted a roster spot and $15 million over the next two years. For a team with a limited budget, this isn’t the kind of move they should have been making.
We'll give Towers the benefit of the doubt and certainly want to hear more from him on this surprise move.
For more discussion on this signing, visit AZ Snake Pit.