Recently, many of the headlines concerning trades have had to do with Justin Upton and Giancarlo Stanton. Both are big powerful players, who are young and relatively cheap, especially Stanton who is still in his pre-arbitration years. However, it’s Upton’s teammate, Jason Kubel, who has garnered some interest on the trade market after the Diamondbacks recently signed Cody Ross to a three-year, $26 million deal. That makes one of Upton or Kubel expendable — with Kubel being the easier target to obtain — but does he make sense for the Yankees?
The 31-year-old Kubel currently has two years and $15 million left on his current deal. The one hang up is that the Yankees are targeting right handed hitters to balance out their everyday lineup, however with Raul Ibanez signing with the Seattle Mariners, they might need a lefthanded DH-type to take over.
Kubel definitely has some power, which would undoubtedly could be helped by Yankee Stadium’s short right field porch. Over his career he’s recorded a .268/.334/.467 slash line with a .198 ISO. In 2012, he mashed 30 home runs and drove in 90 runs. All these numbers look all well and fine, until you look at his strikeout numbers and realize he’s Curtis Granderson-esque.
Kubel struck out 151 times last year or to knock it down into percentages, he K’d in 26.4% of his ABs. Comparatively, Granderson struck out in 28.5% of his ABs last year. The strikeouts wouldn’t be so bad if Kubel walked a tad more, but his career 9.0% BB% isn’t too shabby, but it’s less than Granderson’s 10.1% mark. Speaking further on the strikeout point, it should be noted that Kubel’s strikeout totals have gotten worse in each of the past five seasons. In 2008, while a member of the Minnesota Twins, he recorded a 17.8% K% and has ballooned to the 28.5% mark it is now.
Saying that, however, he’s still an above average hitter (111 wRC+) who can do some real damage with the bat. Against righties last year he hit .264/.348/.540 (129 wRC+), but he was a different story entirely against southpaws with .234/.291/.446 slash line and 90 wRC+.
So the question comes down to whether you throw prospects at a part-time player. With the way the roster currently stands, I would say no. Kubel could presumably play the field, although he’s below average with the glove. His value resides in his bat and since he’s a lefty I wouldn’t go spending prospects for him. Now, if he were a righty who had those same numbers, I would be all for it, but this reeks of luxury rather than need.