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.
Robert Murray and MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reported earlier, respectively, that the Phillies signed pitcher Francisco Liriano and infielder Neil Walker to minor league contracts. If he makes the major league roster, Liriano will earn a salary of $1.5 million with an additional $1.25 million available through performance incentives. Walker’s contract information is not yet known.
Liriano, 36, struggled from 2016-18 but enjoyed a productive year out of the bullpen for the Pirates this past season. He posted a 3.47 ERA with 63 strikeouts and 35 walks over 70 innings. The lefty was quite effective against same-handed batters, limiting fellow lefties to a .659 OPS. That would figure to be a key component if Liriano makes the Phillies’ Opening Day roster.
Walker, 34, hit .261/.344/.395 with eight home runs and 38 RBI over 381 plate appearances with the Marlins last year. The veteran is versastile, having played first, second, and third base along with both corner outfield spots in recent seasons. Despite Walker’s versatility, it is tough to see room on the Phillies’ roster for him, barring injuries to other players. It never hurts to have depth.