In a surprising move, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports is reporting that the Arizona Diamondbacks have signed outfielder Jason Kubel. According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, the Diamondbacks signed Kubel to a two-year, $15 million deal that includes an option for a third year. Perhaps even more surprisingly, Rosenthal reports that Kubel is set to replace 2011 Gold Glove winner Gerardo Parra as the Diamondbacks starting left fielder.
Kubel played second fiddle this winter to other free agent outfielders. The 29-year-old watched former teammate Michael Cuddyer and Josh Willingham sign three-year deals last week before reaching an agreement of his own this morning.
Over his seven seasons with the Twins, Kubel hit at a clip of .271/.335/.459. Last season, Kubel managed an OPS of .766 with 21 doubles, 12 home runs and 58 RBI’s over his 99 games with Minnesota. It was the first time since the 2006 season that Kubel played in less than 128 games.
With the Twins, Kubel has covered both corner outfield positions. His best season came in 2009 when he hit .300/.369/.539 with 35 doubles, 28 home runs and 103 RBI’s.
The move is surprising because the Diamondbacks appeared to have their outfield set entering 2012. Chris Young, Justin Upton and Gerardo Parra combined to form one of the league’s top young outfields in 2011. Now, with the addition of Kubel, it appears Parra will become either a fourth outfielder or a trade chip.
Parra had a productive 2011 at the plate (.292/.357/.427) and is five years younger than Kubel. The 24-year-old is far more affordable and is also considered to be a better defender than Kubel. If the Diamondbacks keep Kubel and Parra on their 2012 roster, it will be interesting to see how the club utilizes each player.
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