The talk about the Orioles’ interest in Diamondbacks outfielder Jason Kubel is again gaining steam, and executive vice president Dan Duquette will always inquire about a power bat like Kubel, who hit 30 homers last season and averaged 25 homers his past four full seasons.
But the Orioles won’t trade away a significant piece and assume Kubel’s contract unless they’re sold that the 30-year-old slugger will make them dramatically better in 2013.
And they’re not convinced.
Kubel’s name previously came up during the winter meetings, but the teams couldn’t find a fit then. The Diamondbacks’ demands might have come down since they’re really looking to move either Kubel or outfielder Justin Upton, but the Orioles still feel that Kubel’s trade price is more than they’re willing to give up.
Once the Orioles re-signed former Gold Glove outfielder Nate McLouth at the winter meetings, the acquisition of Kubel – who isn’t known for his defense – would mean that he’d see most of his at-bats as a designated hitter.
The Orioles already have a DH who hits right-handed pitching well in Wilson Betemit. And while Kubel’s power numbers are better, Betemit and Kubel have identical .268 batting averages and .334 on-base percentages for their careers.
Last season, Betemit and Kubel had identical offensive WARs (1.3). And Betemit even has a better carer average and on-base percentage against right-handed pitching (.281/.349) than Kubel (. 279/.343).
In some ways, the Orioles would be better served to obtain a DH candidate who hits left-handed pitching well. Duquette has trumpeted Danny Valencia, a career .316 hitter against left-handers, for that role but by no means does he have that job.
The Orioles would also have to make at least an $8.5 million commitment to Kubel. He makes $7.5 million next season and has a $7.5 million club option for 2014 with a $1 million buyout. Also, keep in mind that Duquette never inquired about Kubel last offseason when he was a free agent.
More than likely, this has more to do with the Diamondbacks than the Orioles, Arizona is determined to move either Kubel or Upton, and the Diamondbacks are making strong moves to gauge the trade value of both before making a move.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun