On the Block: Jason Kubel

It’s June and with the July 31st deadline steadily approaching, I will begin taking a look at several players that could find themselves on the move this summer.

My first candidate comes from a team that has faced countless struggles this season.  These difficulties paired with his production and contract situation mean that Jason Kubel could be finding himself on the Twins trade block.

There’s no way of sugarcoating it, the 2011 Twins have been awful.  They are currently sporting the worst record in the league with a mark of 17-37.

They’ve managed to string together losing streaks of 4 games or more on four separate occasions.  Their largest such streak was a run of 9 games early in May.

On the year, Minnesota has only won three series.  The Twins pitching staff ranks last in the league with an ERA of 4.87, thanks in great part to their imploding pen.  They also sit at or near the bottom of most offensive categories.

I could continue but you get the idea.

Injuries have certainly added to the insult that’s been the Twins.  The club has been without former MVP Joe Mauer for all but 9 games this year.  This weekend Francisco Liriano became the 11th Twins player to hit the DL this season.

One player that has stood out for the Twins this year is Jason Kubel.  The 29 year old has maintained a line of .310/.355/.465 while playing left and right field as well as DHing for the team.

Minnesota’s abysmal start and Kubel’s solid production and expiring contract make him a prime candidate to be dealt this summer.

He’s definitely getting lucky at the plate this year, with a BABIP of .373.  This has resulted in an inflated batting average.  Because of his decreased walk percentage, 6.5% compared to career average of 8.7%, Kubel’s OBP has remained close to his career mark.

While his average should drop as his BABIP luck runs out, Kubel’s OBP should hold fairly steady as I expect his walk % to elevate closer to his career numbers.

If this is the case and he gravitates more towards his career line of .274/.337/.463, Kubel will still provide a team with above average performance at the plate.

Kubel is currently set to become a Type B free agent, just missing out on Type A status.  Depending on how his production continues, you would figure the Twins would at least be looking for return they deem comparable to a supplemental if not later first round pick.

The outfielder’s contract should not prohibit a move.  Kubel is making $5.25 million this season.

While I’m sure no one will turn down additional offensive production, one team that is screaming out for help is the Seattle Mariners.

The club does not have a single outfielder on their roster with an OPS over .650, and yes that is including Ichiro.  3 of their 5 outfielders have batting averages below the Mendoza Line.  Of course the question is, will Seattle remain in the playoff hunt long enough to actually be buyers at the deadline?

Before the Twins can think about moving Kubel, they need to get him back in their lineup.  He’s been out since Monday when he sprained his left foot.

Tags: Francisco Liriano Ichiro Suzuki Jason Kubel Joe Mauer Minnesota Twins Seattle Mariners

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