When the Diamondbacks signed Jason Kubel for two years and $16 million prior to the 2012 season, we laughed. Kubel was an awful fielder with some ugly platoon splits, and he'd be expected to play left field every day for the Diamondbacks? That'll end well. On Tuesday, the Diamondbacks designated Kubel for assignment, effectively ending his time in the desert.
The 31-year old Kubel was actually competent for Arizona in the first half last season, hitting .293/.367/.533 with 15 homers. In the second half, he once again homered 15 times, but his BABIP dropped from .350 to .212 while his strikeout rate rose to nearly 30%, and Kubel hit .201/.275/.470. Arizona had a glut of outfielders heading into this year with Kubel, Adam Eaton, Gerardo Parra, and AJ Pollock already in the organization. The team signed Cody Ross as a free agent (another signing seemed destined to end poorly) and dealt Justin Upton, giving them one hell of a logjam.
Kubel has dealt with nagging injuries all of this season, and the impressive defensive play of Parra and Pollock has limited his playing time to just 89 games. In those 89 games, Kubel is hitting just .230/.288/.324 with just five homers and a career-worst 30.4% strikeout rate. Against lefties, Kubel has been a disaster, hitting .162/.225/.189 in 40 plate appearances, striking out 16 times.
Arizona will be on the hook for the remainder of Kubel's $7.5 million salary this season as well as the $1 million buyout on his contract for 2014. I could see an American League contender taking a look at Kubel for part of a platoon at DH, but I'm not sure how much of an upgrade he'll really be. It'll be interesting to see what his market looks like this winter, as a 31-year old who can't play defense and can't hit lefties probably doesn't have a ton of value. Hey, maybe the Mariners will add him to their neverending cache of players with his skillset…