UPDATE: Ken Rosenthal reports that the deal is official:
11:53 PM Thursday: After being designated for assignment by the Diamondbacks earlier this week, Jason Kubel should be on the move soon. Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports that the Diamondbacks are “getting close” to finding a trade partner while the Indians are considered a “strong possibility.” This confirms a report by Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish.
Kubel amassed 30 home runs last year, but he has batted just .220/.288/.324 with five home runs in 267 plate appearances this season while battling leg and back problems. The 31-year-old has mostly been limited to pinch-hitting duties over the past couple of weeks.
Kubel has never been known for his defense, so he was a poor fit for the National League, but he could be a useful addition for a team who can slot him in at DH. His contract includes a $1 million buyout on his $7.5 million club option for next season, so the Diamondbacks will likely have to cover it in order to pull off a deal.
Commissioner Rob Manfred spoke with the media today. Naturally, he was asked various questions about the landscape of the sport, given that superstars Manny Machado and Bryce Harper remain unsigned as spring training begins. Per The Athletic’s Brittany Ghiroli, Manfred said that he thinks the free agent market will begin to move once spring training exhibition games begin. Manfred also said that Harper’s camp suggesting that he wants $400 million back in 2016 was “an impediment” to discussions throughout the offseason.
No word on why Machado is also as yet unsigned, as he did not have a reported $400 million ask.
Manfred’s job is to look out for ownership, so it’s not surprising to see him point the finger at Harper. Consider:
Manfred’s comment comes just months after the Red Sox won 108 regular season games and the World Series with baseball’s largest payroll. And ongoing evidence that there is indeed a positive correlation between dollars spent and team success. We often hear justification for tanking/rebuilding because the Cubs and Astros did it and won championships because of it. When the Red Sox use financial muscle to win a championship, it’s crickets.
Manfred didn’t stop there, however.
An easy way to get baseball’s “glow” back would be for two of the game’s best and most popular players to be in uniform playing games. The first spring training exhibition game will be played on February 22, so it’s not looking like that’s going to happen anytime soon.
Baseball’s “glow” would also come back if more teams were actively trying to win. Instead, one-third of the league is “rebuilding” or otherwise coasting on revenue-sharing. For fans of the Rangers, Orioles, Royals, and Marlins — to name a few — the outcomes of their favorite teams’ seasons have already been decided, so what is there to get excited about?