MLB Free Agents 2012: Why Cleveland Indians Need To Sign Jason Kubel

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MLB Free Agents 2012: Why Cleveland Indians Need To Sign Jason Kubel
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The Cleveland Indians are entering free agency with a few holes in their outfield. Grady Sizemore and Kosuke Fukudome likely won't be back, and while right field and center field are filled in with Shin-Soo Choo and Michael Brantley, left field is wide open.

The best player to fill that hole is, of course, someone who can defend the position well enough, but also someone who can hit for power and can help the Indians improve on some rather mediocre hitting numbers this season.

That player is Jason Kubel, who has spent the past seven seasons on the Minnesota Twins. He struggled a bit this past season, hitting poorly after an injury cost him over a month of playing time. As a result, a player who had 12 HR, 58 RBI and a .273 average is likely not going to be a marquee signing.

It's great for Cleveland, as it should be able to acquire Kubel without a problem. If he can bounce back to his 2009 form, where he hit .300 with 28 HR and 103 RBI—and I don't see any reason why he cannot since he was on pace to do it this year—then it's a great pickup.

In a strange twist, however, the fact that he is left-handed is not a signing advantage here. Travis Hafner, Jack Hannahan, Brantley, Choo, Lonnie Chisenhall and Jason Kipnis all bat left-handed already.

Can a team have too many left-handers in a lineup? A Kubel addition would be six of nine spots. If a couple of them were switch-hitters it could work, but it would actually be preferable to sign a right-handed hitter to keep the balance.

Then again, Sizemore was left-handed, so adding Kubel wouldn't change much of anything in that regard. All it would do is give the Indians a power hitter that they wanted out of Sizemore and someone who can provide solid enough defense to not cost the team games.

Kubel would likely be looking at a deal somewhere in the range of $6 million to $8 million per year. I tend to end up undershooting these numbers given how ridiculous salaries have gotten, but if this is correct, then there would be no problems picking him up for a few years contract-wise.

There are likely a few teams that will be looking at Kubel at either left or right field, but there is surprisingly little talk on him, so it's tough to say how the market is for him.

I would imagine the Giants and Phillies would be interested in both him and Michael Cuddyer, and the Twins will think of re-signing them, so they are the Tribe's primary competition.

Of course, if the Indians are ready to win, then this is a move to make, with the caveat that the Indians' fourth outfielder has to be a right-handed hitter to help balance the numbers out.

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