Undone by leg and back problems this year, Jason Kubel was designated for assignment by the Diamondbacks on Tuesday, just five days prior to the roster expansion.
Kubel was finishing up a two-year, $16 million contract with Arizona. He fulfilled his part of the bargain in year one, hitting .253/.328/.506 with 30 homers and 90 RBI in 506 at-bats. However, he had slipped all of the way to .220/.288/.324 with five homers and 32 RBI in 241 at-bats this year.
Because of his physical problems, Kubel had started just two games in three weeks. He was pinch-hitting a lot, but not doing a particularly good job of it. If the Diamondbacks are willing to cover his $1 million buyout for next year, they might be able to flip him to an AL team that could use him as a part-time DH. Cleveland and Texas are a couple of obvious possibilities there.
The Washington Nationals, fresh off signing Stephen Strasburg to a $245 million deal, are now turning their attention to their third base hole. Jon Morosi of MLB.com reports that they have made inquiries to the Chicago Cubs about trading for Kris Bryant.
Emphasis on the word “inquiry” because it’d be premature for the Cubs to trade Bryant at the moment, even if they are reported to be considering the possibility.
Bryant and the Cubs are awaiting word from an arbitrator about Bryant’s years-old service time grievance. If Bryant wins, he becomes a free agent after the 2020 season. If the Cubs win they control him for two more years. The team may or may not choose to trade him in either case as they are reportedly trying to cut payroll, but the price for him will vary pretty significantly depending on whether or not the acquiring club will receive one or two years of control over the former MVP.
For Washington, this would be a means of replacing free agent third baseman Anthony Rendon. Or, perhaps, the inquiries are a means of creating a tad more leverage for the Nats as they talk to Rendon’s agent about re-signing him.
Which, in the past, the Nats said they could not do if they also re-signed Strasburg, though I suspect that’s just posturing too. They may not want to spend big money to keep their World Series core together, but they can afford it. They’re going to see, I suspect, an eight-figure uptick in revenue by virtue of being the defending World Series champs. They are poised to receive a significant payout as a result of recent rulings in their own multi-year dispute with the Orioles and the MASN network. They are, of course, owned by billionaire real estate moguls. All of that taken together means that, if they choose to, they can bring back Rendon. Assuming he chooses to come back too.
But, if that doesn’t happen, they appear to be giving themselves options at the hot corner.