Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Trade Target: Jason Kubel

Before the holiday, we saw the Yankees finally start to address some of the holes in their team. They signed Kevin Youkilis to play third base while Alex Rodriguez is hurt and they re-signed Ichiro Suzuki to a two year deal to play right field. However, they are still far from done. They still need to find a right-handed outfielder (Scott Hairston cough cough) and a designated hitter. Though it seems like they need replacement for Russell Martin behind the plate, Brian Cashman seems content with going into the year with Frankie Cervelli and Chris Stewart (another topic for another day).


(The Star Tribune)
I would love to see the Yanks ink Hairston as the righty bat, but the designated hitter question is a little more foggy. It's clear that the team likes to use this spot in the lineup to rotate older players so it's unclear what direction they want to go in exactly. I'd like to see them make a run at the Arizona Diamondbacks Jason Kubel. Let's break him down:

Pros
  • Since Arizona signed Cody Ross to a three year deal, they have an excess of outfielders and reports have indicated that the D-Backs would be open to dealing Jason Kubel (though I wouldn't mind Justin Upton myself). So he is very much available.
  • Kubel, 30, is also signed relatively cheap. He's making $7.5 million each of the next two seasons and has a team option for the same amount for 2015 (includes a $1 million buy out). The brass shouldn't have too much trouble fitting him into Plan 189.
  • Kubel really mashes right-handed pitching. He has a career .359 wOBA and 120 wRC+ against them. He also walks a ton (9% career BB%) so he'll fit right into the 'get on base' culture the offense seems to create every year. It's also worth noting that he's been very durable and hasn't had any major injuries over the course of his career.
  • Lastly, he plays some outfield so he won't be a total bat only guy. He has experience in both outfield corners so you can keep the bat in the lineup if you want to give an older player a half day off.
Cons
  • Kubel is basically a platoon guy since he can't really hit lefties sporting a career .306 wOBA and 86 wRC+ against south paws. His K% also shoots up 6% from when he faces righties. It's also worth noting that his strikeout rate has been climbing steadily over the last few years.
  • He also is pretty terrible defender. He definitely doesn't pass the eye test and if you look at the the advanced metrics (which I don't really trust, but could be useful with a big enough sample) have him at -46 for his career. Maybe if you put him in right field the smaller dimensions of Yankee Stadium will help him, but you'd probably still have to look away every time a ball was hit in his direction.
  • The Bombers are an older team without much speed and Kubel won't be adding much to that dimension. He's stolen just 11 bases since he was first called up back in 2004.
I'm not the biggest Kubel fan, but with the way the market has played out and with what the Yankees need, Kubel makes a lot of sense. He could help replace some of the power lost from Russell Martin, Nick Swisher, and even Raul Ibanez. I don't think he'll be too expensive either given some of his limitations.

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