Report: Jason Kubel interested in Twins; should interest be mutual?
Jason Kubel is not the player once was. The former Twins outfielder, whose value is tied exclusively to his bat, had his $7.5 million option declined by the Cleveland Indians on Friday. He received a $1 million buyout and is now a free agent.
Also today the Indians declined the 2014 club option of OF Jason Kubel. He is also now a free agent.— Cleveland Indians (@Indians) November 1, 2013
Kubel is interested in returning to Minnesota, according to Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press.
But should the Twins be interested in Kubel?
The Twins let him walk and he signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2012. The Diamondbacks then designated him for assignment in late August, and worked a trade that sent him to the Indians.
Kubel is no good with the glove, so his role would likely be as a part-time corner outfielder and DH. Berardino also speculates Kubel could help at first, but he's never played the position in the Majors.
The left-handed hitter strikes out an awful lot. In 2013, he struck out in 31.7 percent of his 290 plate appearances. Nearly a third of the times he walks to the dish, he takes a seat without having put the ball in play. That, more than anything, is culpable for his .216/.293/.317 triple slash line.
So, 2013 Kubel was a bad defender, who couldn't hit for high average, who couldn't get on base at a respectable rate and didn't hit for power relative to his position. Sounds a lot like a guy who would get designated for assignment and have his option declined at the end of the season.
His 2012 season, however, offers slight intrigue. He hit 30 home runs in 571 plate appearances and batted .253/.327/.506. The strikeout rate was still high (26.4 percent), but the power was there. Kubel's Isolated Power (slugging percentage - batting average) was .253, a good clip. That measures his extra-base power.
Berardino also notes Kubel's home/road splits with the Twins in Target Field.
In 2011, his weighted runs created-plus was 89 at home and 124 on the road, his OPS home/road split was .690/.821 and his Isolated Power split was .123/.189. That home performance wasn't so great.
In 2010, however, Kubel opened Target Field with home/road splits that were basically even: 101/103 wRC+, .165/.189 ISO and .746/.753 OPS.
So I pose this to the readers: does Kubel's 2012 make him enough of an intriguing option? Or is 2013 a sign that his skills have declined to the point where he's no longer useful?
The Twins, no doubt, need to focus on starting pitching this offseason. But their offense was also brutal last season and can use all the help it can get.