The Arizona Diamondbacks signed free agent OF Jason Kubel to a substantial contract. This move raises a few questions about how Kubel will be used and what the signing means to the rest of the line up.
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The Arizona Diamondbacks newest outfielder, Jason Kubel, jumped on the phone and answered questions from the local media on Tuesday just a few hours after his signing was officially announced by his new team. Kubel talked about why he had the D-backs listed so high on his free agency wish list, what he expects his role to be and how his defense will translate to Chase Field.
Jason Kubel first considered playing for the D-backs in May when he visited Chase Field as a member of the Minnesota Twins during inter-league play. He went 4-14 with a double, triple, home run and three RBI during his brief three-game visit. That was enough to leave a strong impression on the free agent to be.
Kubel told his agent at the time that he was interested in Arizona and that he liked "the way the ball comes off my bat here". It took some time for the D-backs and Kubel to come back together after initial talks went no where, but late last week GM Kevin Towers reached out and things quickly came together.
Kubel called the D-backs a "very, very close second" behind his top preferred destination, the Los Angeles Dodgers. Jason grew up in L.A. as a Dodgers fan and still lives there.
All the teams he spoke with were strictly for outfield jobs, "I'm not a big fan of DH. I don't like it too much. I feel more in the game in the outfield. That's what I want to do and I want to prove that I can do it."
When Kubel was signed in an apparent replacement for Gold Glove winner Gerardo Parra, there were obvious questions about his defense. His reputation as a field is "average" while the advanced stats suggest he's sub par.
"Obviously, I'm not the fastest guy in the world, but I take a lot of pride in my defense," Kubel said. "I work pretty hard at it. I try to make the best first step, try to get the best route. I think I do a pretty good job at that. I'll make the plays that should be made and every now and then I get a little athletic out there and make some other ones. I take a lot of pride doing it right and making all the plays."
Defense is nice, but Jason was signed for hit bat and the biggest attraction for him in coming to Arizona is the opportunity to be a better hitter. Kubel explained why this was a good move for him:
"It's no secret that a lot of people didn't like Target Field too much, to hit there. I feel here, that I can use the whole field and still put up the power numbers I want to put up instead of having to try and pull the ball in the air to get it out. I did run into trouble trying to do that stuff more often and it really showed the numbers and everything. I think I can use the whole field here and not worry about hitting a ball that I thought I hit pretty well to center or left-center and it just being an out. I'm looking forward to that."
Kubel spoke with Kevin Towers on Saturday. He expects to be a middle of the order bat in the line up that he'll be "playing quite a bit".
Even though it seemed as if the Arizona Diamondbacks were set in terms of position players, D-backs GM Kevin Towers surprised some people with his signing of free agent outfielder Jason Kubel to a two-year deal worth more than $15 million. Towers explained the club's thought process today to the Arizona Republic's Nick Piecoro.
"We still want to improve our club instead of sitting on our hands," Towers said. "We didn't want to miss out on all the good players that are out there. We saw (Kubel) was still out there and we went after him."
The big reason for the surprise in the signing was that Kubel's signing now more than likely moves current left fielder Gerardo Parra into a fourth outfielder role. Parra won a Golden Glove award last season. Towers sees Kubel's addition as adding more talent and flexibility to the ball club.
"As you well know, nobody is given a job here," Towers said. "Parra is still very much a part of this club and was a big part last year. You can't have enough good players. You have to have depth. We did that with the infield, too. We'll see how things play out in spring training and how they go along. As of right now, adding Kubel adds another corner bat. Parra is still somebody we think a lot of."
The Arizona Diamondbacks reportedly signed free agent OF Jason Kubel to a substantial contract. This move raises a few questions about how Kubel will be used and what the signing means to the rest of the line up.