For the second time in seven months, Jason Kubel and the Chicago White Sox are being mentioned in the same sentence.
Unlike last time, however, there is one way that bringing Kubel to the South Side makes sense.
Let’s start from the beginning.
Last offseason, CBS Sports’ Danny Knobler tweeted that the White Sox inquired about Kubel after the Diamondbacks had expressed interest in shortstop Alexei Ramirez.
Bringing Kubel in at the time would have been a move made in an effort to replace A.J. Pierzynski’s left-handed bat in the lineup. It would also have been a mistake.
Fast forward seven months, and the Chicago Tribune’s Phil Rogers brings Kubel’s name back to the forefront.
The Diamondbacks have interest in the White Sox's Jake Peavy and possibly Jesse Crain or Matt Lindstrom. If a deal comes together, look for it to include Jason Kubel, who hit 30 home runs a year ago. That deal could make it easier for general manager Rick Hahn to deal Alex Rios or Adam Dunn.
Kubel—.247/.329/.357, 4 HR, 26 RBI—is a worse fit now than he was last year. According to FanGraphs.com, his home run/fly ball ratio is at a career-worst 7.8 percent, and his contact percentage is at an unfathomably low 70.2 percent.
At the risk of being blunt, he is not very good anymore.
As part of a larger deal with one very big caveat, though, bringing the big left-hander on board is a winning move for Hahn.
See, packaging trade pieces is the only way the White Sox are going to get a real return in any trade. They simply do not have any one player they are looking to move who has the weight to demand a prized prospect.
What they do have is a surplus of veteran talent that can help a contending team. Unfortunately, the players who have the most value—Peavy and Rios—also have more than one year and many millions of dollars remaining on their contracts.
That means that a little give is in order.
Take the recent trade that sent Matt Thornton to the Boston Red Sox as an example. The White Sox had to give the Red Sox cash considerations to cover some of Thornton’s buyout to make the deal work, according to Matt Snyder from CBS Sports.
Is assuming a large contract a good alternative to including cash as part of a trade package?
When considering Peavy, those cash considerations will have to be significantly higher due to the roughly $20 million remaining on his contract.
So, including Kubel in a trade to offset some of the money could make sense, but only if Hahn has no intention of exercising Kubel’s $7.5 million option for 2014. If he has grander plans that include Kubel in a Sox uniform next season, then this franchise is going backwards.
The White Sox need major league-ready talent. Now.
If Hahn can swing a trade wherein he gets Kubel and the Diamondbacks' No. 2 prospect Matt Davidson for Peavy and Crain, then the White Sox will be in business.
Davidson, a right-handed hitting third baseman, is batting .291 with 14 home runs and 59 RBI in 90 games for the Triple-A Reno Aces, and he projects as an above-average hitter with a good glove. In other words, a dream come true for Hahn.
Whether or not the Diamondbacks are willing to part with one of their highest ranked prospects is unknown, but that is the type of player that must be included if the White Sox are to bring Kubel to the South Side.