On Thursday we heard that the Pittsburgh Pirates were looking at Jason Kubel. The Minnesota Twins outfielder might be on the trade market, depending on whether the Twins feel they are contenders. Minnesota is currently 50-56, although they are six games out of the AL Central. That said, they will have to move past four other teams if they want to win the division, which makes it more likely that they will be sellers.
Jenifer Langosch reports that the Pirates have a strong interest in Kubel, confirming the reports we heard from Jayson Stark on Thursday. Yesterday, we heard that the Pirates were still looking for an outfielder, and were still in the market for B.J. Upton, but were looking at other options. Langosch mentions that Kubel would cost prospects, although he wouldn’t cost any of the top tier of prospects. The Pirates would also get draft pick compensation for him from the 2012 draft, as he profiles as a Type B free agent.
Kubel is under control through the remainder of the year, making $5.25 M. He’s having a great year, with a .308/.359/.463 line in 227 at-bats. Kubel has hit 20 or more homers in each of the last three seasons, and has a .277/.342/.472 line in over 2100 at-bats since 2007, when he became a full time player. His defense isn’t strong, but he would be a huge boost to the offense, playing out of right field. His total value would be around $6.4 M, which means the Pirates would have to give up about three Grade C pitching prospects if they wanted to make a deal. If the Twins didn’t want quantity, the Pirates would almost certainly have to give up one pitcher from the group of Rudy Owens, Justin Wilson, Jeff Locke and Bryan Morris.
That might not be a huge loss for the Pirates, considering how their pitching has been this year, and considering that they have those four pitchers, plus Brad Lincoln, Kyle McPherson, and the returning Ross Ohlendorf as pitching options in the upper levels. It’s definitely an area where the team has some depth, and since they’d be getting a first round compensation pick in return, it eases the loss a bit more.