Jason Kubel has had his ups and downs during his four year tenure with the Twins. He has suffered through injury and slumps, and experienced child-birth but has steadily improved through the years.
His batting average has gone up and down, but his 2008 average of .272 is a good measure of how he has fared since 2004. Another impressive statistic is his home run total. Last year, his first full season in the major leagues, Kubel hit 13 long balls and 31 doubles. In 2008 he reduced his double amount but turned them into 20 home runs.
His OPS+ has consistently been above one hundred for his four professional years: 103, 72, 109, 115, respectfully. Kubel’s slugging, total bases, and runs batted in have never been higher than they were this year.
Clearly, Kubel just finished the best year of his short career, and the trade value of this 26-year old is near the peak. If ever there was a time to trade this outfielder, it is right now.
Although a trade of Kubel sounds radical and bizarre, with the plethora of outfielders currently on the Twins roster a trade might be the route to take. Kubel is eligible for arbitration this year and the Twins have two options; they can let Kubel walk away or re-sign him for a determined amount of time.
If the Twins re-signed Kubel for any amount of years they would have the option of trading him wherever they wish. Would this course of action be best for the team?
In a strange way, I think so. The biggest need of the Twins is a power-hitting third baseman, while the most abundant position is in the outfield. The Twins can simply sign a third baseman through free agency, but the best option would probably be Casey Blake. The Twins can obviously get a better third baseman through trade, and that is where Kubel fits into the picture.
The most drooled-over player among Twins fans for quite a while now is Adrian Beltre. He is among the league-leading third basemen and is currently on a team with a desperate need for an overhaul. The Seattle Mariners are stuck with a somewhat old team controlled with a $100 million payroll. They need to get rid of as many players as possible and bring in some fresh, young talent.
Kubel isn’t exactly young, but he would fit the Seattle bill. Although a straight up Kubel-Beltre swap probably wouldn’t work, I’m sure the Twins would be more than happy to throw in one or two of their numerous minor league pitchers.
As a result, the Twins would clear some congestion in the outfield, find a long-term solution at third base, and if you put on the optimist glasses, they have also cleared up some potential minor league clogs.
The Mariners, however, would get rid of one of their biggest salaries and welcome a middle-age outfielder with an above-average bat. The Twins, although they’re paying Mike Lamb somewhere close to $3 million this year although he is no longer on the roster, would most likely pay Beltre’s hefty contract without hesitation. They are just coming off one of the biggest payroll cuts in franchise history after the departure of both Santana and Hunter and should be willing to cough up the needed amount in return for one of the best third basemen in the league.
Don’t get me wrong, I greatly appreciate what Jason Kubel has done and accomplished as a Twin. He is an above-average outfielder and I wouldn’t be at all opposed to keeping him on the roster and finding a different way to deal with the outfield situation.
The bottom line is that Kubel’s trade value has never been higher. If the Twins are thinking about making a move, it should be done very soon.