Just two weeks ago, I wrote an analytical article on three players the Baltimore Orioles were rumored to have interest in trading for, Jason Kubel, Justin Upton and Mike Morse. Of course, Morse was traded just days after the article the Washington Nationals traded Morse to the Seattle Mariners, thus he is no longer on the market, but the other two still remain.
First let's get this out of the way, the Orioles are not going to trade for Upton, he is owed too much money and the Arizona Diamondbacks are asking for way too much for him anyway and the Orioles are not going to do that.
So now let's turn our focus to Kubel. He is a power hitting left handed hitter who can play the outfield and DH. First and foremost, as is the case with any player the Orioles may have interest in, the salary a player makes must be looked at. Kubel is under contract for the 2013 and 2014 seasons and is due $7.5 million each year. So on one hand, the fact that you would acquire a guy that will be under team control for two seasons, but on the other hand he does make money and Baltimore is not fond of paying players money. If the Orioles would not pay Mark Reynolds $6 million, would they pay Kubel $7.5 million? Very doubtful, but let's assume they would and take a look at Kubel's numbers to see if he is worth trading someone like Brian Matusz, Jake Arrieta, or Zach Britton for.
Jason is a career .268 hitter with 134 homers, 519 RBI, .334 OBP and is currently 30 years old. Other than the 2011 season, Kubel is a healthy player who stays in the lineup and produces. Last season with Arizona, he hit .253 with 30 homers, 30 doubles, and 90 RBI. How great would it be to have that bat in the lineup to compliment Chris Davis, Adam Jones and Matt Wieters? I have no doubt that Kubel's numbers would get even better playing half of his games at Camden Yards. Obviously if Baltimore did acquire Kubel, he would likely play mostly in left field and DH, and believe it or not, he is not as bad of an outfielder as one may think as he has a career .985 fielding percentage in 519 career games in the outfield.
So the numbers look good right? Well let's compare them to the guy's he would essentially be "replacing" in Nolan Reimold and Nate McLouth. Reimold is a career .261 hitter in 246 career games with 36 homers, 114 RBI, .338 OBP and a .971 career fielding percentage in the outfield in 204 games. Hmmm, seems like Kubel is an upgrade there, especially since Kubel can do something that Reimold can't, stay healthy! Now for McLouth, who is a .248 career hitter in 820 career games with 88 homers, 290 RBI, .335 OBP and a .991 career fielding percentage and won a Gold Glove in 2008 with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Although McLouth also adds speed to the equation that Kubel does not, it is easy to see that Kubel has much better offensive numbers than McLouth and is decent enough in the field to offset McLouth's defensive prowess with his bat.
Other results that would come from acquiring Kubel would be the loss of a roster spot, so who would be left out? Odds are Reimold would become the right handed option at DH (if healthy) and McLouth would remain as the fourth outfielder, but someone like Wilson Betemit, Danny Valencia or Ryan Flaherty would been sent to the minors and personally, I do not think that is a bad thing whatsoever.
Thus ultimately, the numbers support that Baltimore should really be pursuing a trade for Kubel hard as he instantly makes this team better, despite multiple reports out there that he wouldn't. Just think of a Davis, Jones, Kubel 3-4-5 lineup, that is three guys who could easily combine for 100 home runs in a season, that's quite a middle of the order, especially if you throw in 20+ homers from Matt Wieters in the six hole. To me this is a no brainer, but the money will be the biggest issue followed closely by the Diamondbacks asking price. If Arizona is requesting Dylan Bundy or Kevin Gausman then there is no way the Orioles should or would make this trade, but if they are asking for a Matusz or Britton and a prospect like a Xavier Avery then I could support that move. Only time will tell if the Orioles will actually make a move that makes them instantly better, but unfortunately Baltimore, I just do not see it happening.
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