Does Kubel Fit the Phillies?

Posted by Eric Seidman, Tue, December 25, 2012 10:05 AM | Comments: 33
Acquisitions, Analysis, Commentary, Statistical Analysis

The Diamondbacks signed Cody Ross to a three-year, $26 million deal over the weekend, giving them five starting outfielders for just three spots. With Adam Eaton set to start in centerfield and both Kubel and Ross signed to free agent deals, the Diamondbacks are more likely to trade one of their outfielders than use expensive platoons. Gerardo Parra‘s name was frequently mentioned as a possible trade target last year, when the Diamondbacks similarly signed Kubel to an outfield already including Parra, Chris Young and Justin Upton, but now it seems even more likely they make a move.

While Kevin Towers hasn’t officially put Kubel on the block, he noted that his phone didn’t stop ringing with requests for his outfielders after news of the Ross signing broke.

The Phillies were strong suitors for Ross but sources suggest they never really wanted to go beyond one or two years on a deal. If the Phils were seeking Ross’s level of productivity¬†on a short-term and less lucrative contract, they could potentially find that in the form of the now expendable Kubel, whose numbers are quite similar over the last two seasons.

I spent more words than I would have liked on Cody Ross over the past few weeks but the point was simple: Ross wanted this type of deal and that would have been a terrible investment by the Phillies.

As those posts discussed, Ross is really a platoon player with below average marks against the righties that throw 70% of the innings in a season, yet he was seeking an everyday player’s salary.

While he could certainly start for numerous teams around the league, the Phillies shouldn’t have been on that list, at least not on a lucrative three-year commitment.

He was barely more productive and consistent than an internal platoon including John Mayberry and, say, Laynce Nix, and that timeshare could have replicated 85% of Ross’s production at 20% of the cost.

It seems far-fetched to suggest that the Phils will use Nix in that role and, after non-tendering Nate Schierholtz, they don’t have anyone else to call on in this regard.

The Phillies have Domonic Brown, Darin Ruf, Nix and Mayberry for the two corner outfield posts, as well as Rule 5 selection Ender Inciarte. At least one of those players wasn’t going to make the roster out of camp if the Phils stood pat. Now that Kubel is conceivably available it shouldn’t surprise anyone if the Phils make a big-time push and temporarily reduce their number of outfield uncertainties.

The aforementioned platoons were the best case scenarios from the standpoints of being cost-effective and realistic alternatives to a Josh Willingham deal that apparently wasn’t in the cards. The next best thing, assuming the Phillies want to pay a corner outfielder $7-$8 million for 20-30 home runs out of one player, is to try and pry Kubel away from the Diamondbacks. He has been similarly valuable to Ross over the past two seasons and has just one guaranteed year left on his contract at $7.5 million. He has a mutual option for 2014 at a similar rate but it’s wise to view this as a one-year deal.

Simply put, Kubel is Ross (and Finkle is Einhorn) on a more favorable contract.

Over the last two seasons, check out their rate numbers:

Ross: 989 PA, 9.2% K, 22.8% BB, 34.9% GB, .254/.326/.446, 109 wRC+
Kubel: 972 PA, 9.2% K, 24.4% BB, 34.2% GB, .261/.329/.476, 113 wRC+

And some of their raw totals:

Ross: 989 PA, 224 H, 60 2B/3B, 36 HR, 3.4 WAR
Kubel: 972 PA, 228 H, 56 2B/3B, 42 HR, 2.9 WAR

The major differences in their games offset. Kubel offers more power while Ross is a better fielder. Overall, they have basically been the same player since 2011, have the same approximate average annual values on their current contracts, yet one is only signed for one more guaranteed year and is on a team that could really benefit from moving him to fix a problem elsewhere. Plus, they are now on the same team, and the Diamondbacks don’t need to pay two players for the same productivity in an already crowded outfield.

Obvious deterrents to a trade exist. The Phillies aren’t the only potentially interested team and others may value him as more than a one-year stopgap. Those teams would pay the Diamondbacks more in prospects or major league ready players.

Another is that the Diamondbacks may want to move Parra more than Kubel.

While Parra has been more valuable than both Kubel and Ross over the last few seasons, the areas in which he excels, like fielding and baserunning, aren’t as sexy as 25-30 HR power. While I would love to see him on the Phillies, it probably isn’t a realistic fit.

The Diamondbacks could also value a solid starting pitching prospect after trading away Trevor Bauer, and one year of Kubel just isn’t worth a Jesse Biddle, Adam Morgan, Brody Colvin or Jonathan Pettibone, regardless of the Phils depth.

There is still plenty of time left in the offseason but if a costly year of Kubel — $7.5 mil in salary and an upper-level prospect is indeed costly — is the only viable alternative to sticking with what they have, the Phils should go into spring training with this current core of outfielders and see who sticks and in what specific role. There are uncertainties associated with their outfielders but the talent is there, especially in specialized roles.

Kubel, just like Ross before him, is a slight overall upgrade on what the Phillies can do with players already on the roster. Just like Ross before him, that slight upgrade just isn’t worth the premium in salary. In Kubel’s case, while the contract is more favorable, the expense in prospects makes it similarly expensive and less desirable.

Avatar of Eric Seidman

About Eric Seidman

Eric Seidman has written 64 articles on Phillies Nation.

Eric offers his unique analytical perspective to Phillies Nation and is a regular contributor on FanGraphs.com.

  • Posts: 0 hk

    Over the past 3 seasons, Kubel’s WRC+ vs. RHP’s was 119. In the same time period, Nate Schierholtz’s WRC+ vs. RHP’s was 112 while Laynce Nix’s was 106. Considering that both Schierholtz and Nix are better fielders than Kubel and much cheaper, it doesn’t make sense to me that they would trade an asset for Kubel and pay him $8.5M to be a platoon OF when Schierholtz probably could have, and Nix probably can, provide as much value in that role and allow the team to keep the asset and have more room under the luxury tax.

    • Posts: 146 Eric Seidman

      Avatar of Eric Seidman

      Yep — I still do not get why they got rid of Schierholtz. Yes, he would have cost $1.5 mil, but he hits righties well and lefty-crushers like Mayberry for instance are far easier to find. I really hope the Phillies use Nix in that role.

  • Posts: 0 Cs

    Get over Shierholtz, he’s gone and I’m sure they had a good reason.

    • Posts: 0 hk

      Why do you assume that they had a good reason for making a bad move? Did they have a good reason for giving Jamie Moyer a 2nd guaranteed year after the 2008 season? Did they have a good reason for giving Raul Ibanez 3 seasons when every other corner OF got 1 or 2 that off-season? Did they have a good reason for giving Laynce Nix 2 guaranteed seasons? Maybe, like in many other cases, they just plain mis-read the market for the player in question.

      • Posts: 0 Double Trouble Del

        In a telling insight into the prompt non-tender of Schierholtz it was reported that he lost his starting job to the immortal John Bowker in 2010. That’s just one among why Amaro let him go.

      • Posts: 0 hk


        I’m not sure how telling the 2010 benching in favor of John Bowker is considering that the Giants gave Schierholtz 362 plate appearances in 2011…in which he produced a WRC+ of 110.

    • Posts: 0 Ken Bland

      That’s actually a statement of good probability. While it’s a little amazing that the player continues getting discussed around here, what people on this board must know is what offer Amaro had for Schierholz that he passed on, they must know the figure the player’s agent planned to submit in arbitration that led Amaro to know what indentation there would be to his budget, and of course they must know whether or not Schierhoz requested free agency unless he was gonna be given certain chances. If Ruben had options open to him that were off the charts attractive (cough cough), then passing on a deal might warrant criticism. If he did the guy a favor, maybe it comes back to help him at some point through the agent, as an example.
      Woudn’t be the first time a plot like that went down..

      Not a big deal to me. Not an overwhelmed fan of his game .

      • Posts: 0 hk


        As Eric Seidman points out below, the Phils were able to get Jeremy Horst for Wilson Valdez of all people. I find it hard to believe that 11 teams were interested in Schierholtz in free agency with one ending up paying 50%+ more than the salary he was estimated to be able to get in arb or in a pre-arb deal, yet none of the other 10 would give up something of potential value for him. Maybe Ruben gave him up without seriously pursuing a trade because he misjudged the market for the guy and had a deadline to decide whether or not to tender him.

        And, if Ruben non-tendered him to do him a favor, that’s just bad business. What did Ruben owe to this guy, who he had for 73 PA’s? If Dom Brown, who has been in the Phillies system since high school says to Ruben, I prefer free agency, do you think the Phillies should grant it?

        I am not an overwhelming fan of his game either. However, his track record of fielding, base-running and hitting vs. RHP’s over the past 3 years tells me he’s better than Laynce Nix and close to Jason Kubel, so if they give 400+ PA’s to Nix or Kubel (plus the assets to acquire Kubel and his $8M salary and buyout) in 2013, it will be a bad move. It won’t be Larry Bowa and Ryne Sandberg for Ivan DeJesus bad, but it will be a bad move nonetheless for a team that seems to have a short window for contending and minimal salary cap room under the luxury tax.

  • Posts: 0 scott

    Ok, here is a question i have no current answer for ,my wife got me a Phillies shirt from a sporting goods shop for Christmas.It is a number 3 on back with the name Edwards any help would be great as i am clueless who it is.Thanks merry Christmas to all.

  • Posts: 0 wbramh

    Yeah, might as well forget Schierholtz… Gone!

    Arguably, Nate was one of the top three guys in the outfield even if you include the off-season pick-up of Revere, but again, it’s now history.

    It seems RAJ is intent on landing the fifth or sixth best corner outfielder now playing for some other team so he can become the fourth or fifth best outfielder for the Phils next season.
    I’m sure he has his reasons.
    Sometimes the junior Amaro works is mysterious ways.

  • Posts: 0 psujoe

    Scherholtz was let go because RAJ didn’t want to get locked into another contract. Just a poor move IMO. If RAJ signed him he could’ve easily been moved at the winter meetings.

    • Posts: 0 Double Trouble Del

      Just a quick note- Schierholtz lost his starting job with the Giants in 2010 to none other than fan-favorite John Bowker.

  • Posts: 5221 Lefty

    Avatar of Lefty

    I find it fascinating that Corey could write such a polar opposite piece to this one on CSN Philly. Must have been an interesting holiday dinner.

    • Posts: 146 Eric Seidman

      Avatar of Eric Seidman

      So because we’re brothers we have to view baseball the same way ;-) ? I also don’t think Corey and I are too far apart. Corey views Kubel as a fit because the Phillies were into Ross and, like I said above, Kubel is basically like getting Ross for 1/$8. If the Diamondbacks take a slightly lesser prospect that could be worth it. I don’t entirely disagree, I just don’t think the Phillies need to make this type of move at all, and find it more likely that Kubel costs an actual and worthwhile prospect. As in, I don’t think Corey is exactly leading the charge to bring him in, but is more of the opinion that, hey, if this happens, it could help. I’m of the opinion that if it’s not Justin Upton or Willingham on a reasonable deal, stick with what you have and revisit at the deadline.

      • Posts: 0 c schreiber

        Right on the fat of the barrel on that comment Eric. Upton or Willingham, personally I prefer Upton, or go with what you got.

  • Posts: 0 Ryne Duren

    i wish all of my PN friends a merry christmas. and all i have to say about kubal is no he’s a LH hitting ross. never mind. go for upton! done. giver em bastardo, brown and a minor starter. colvin?

    • Posts: 0 hk

      The only way the Phils need another RH-hitting OF is if they believe Ruf either can’t play the OF or won’t hit at the MLB level. Otherwise, they will be able to start the following lineup vs. LHP’s if they want:

      C: Ruiz or Kratz
      1B: Young, if Charlie wants to optimize the lineup, otherwise Howard
      2B: Utley, who hits LHP’s nearly as well as he hits RHP’s
      SS: Rollins
      3B: Frandsen if Young plays 1B, otherwise Young
      RF: Mayberry
      CF: Revere, who like Utley, shows a minimal L/R split
      LF: Ruf

      Since, as Eric points out, 70% of MLB pitches are thrown by RHP’s, I think they should be more concerned with their lineup vs. RHP’s, which currently projects to start JMJ, Nix or Ruf in LF. That being said, I don’t see Kubel as enough of an upgrade to be worth acquiring.

  • Posts: 0 Ken Bland

    It’d be a little surprising if he doresn’t wind up starting in CF, but I wouldn’t be totally shocked if the Bax start Adam Eaton at Triple A to simplify thier crowded OF. Chances are they get a perceived nice return on Upton or Kubel and simplify things that way, but if you try to anticipate a guy who signed Ross for the dollars and length that he did, you’re trying to outguess what sure seems like a plan in place already. Sure hope so for sanity’s sake.

    Kubel is a nice player, but not the kind I’d go out of my way to build long term around. For what he’d cost, and to keep, factored in, it’s hard to envision offering any packager that’s gonna attract Towers more than those in need of an OF (Rangers, Braves) with seemingly maybe even as many as a lot more chips.

    • Posts: 5221 Lefty

      Avatar of Lefty

      Now that you mention it, I wish the Phils could somehow get them to part with Adam Eaton.(The new one, not the old one.) They think he’s going to be really good, and so do I. But it ain’t gonna happen.

  • Posts: 2993 Chuck A.

    Avatar of Chuck A.

    “Wilson Valdez of all people” …

    As though Valdez was the worst player the Phillies ever had. May I remind the person that made that comment that it was a damn good thing we had Valdez when we did as he filled in admirably and adequately at several positions. While he hit into an exorbitant amount of double plays, didn’t he have at one point the team’s highest batting average with RISP? Even Ruben admitted last spring that had the team really known how serious Utley’s condition was he probably wouldn’t have traded him.

    Now…that said…Jeremy Horst has been a pleasant surprise and figures to be a nice, important piece to the pen so I have no regrets that the trade was made.

    As for Mr. Schierholtz, yeah, I guess they shouldn’t have dropped that ball. Like someone said awhile back, stuff like that adds up. But it’s really not the biggest of deals

    • Posts: 0 hk

      Wilson Valdez produced a .249/.294/.341 with (according to the advanced metrics) below average defense in 2011. He accumulated 0.0 fWAR and -0.7 bWAR and the only reason those numbers were so high is that Charlie gave him 300 PA’s. The fact that RAJ was able to extract a live body for him after that season is a big plus on RAJ’s record, but there’s nothing that Valdez did (other than his work out of the bullpen) that would make me reconsider my “of all people” comment.

      • Posts: 2993 Chuck A.

        Avatar of Chuck A.

        His work out of the bullpen…which was just plain dumb luck….wasn’t even on my mind when I made the comment about him. While certainly not the greatest utility player out there by a ton, I think you could have come up with someone better to tag “of all people.” MiniMart…for example, would be one.

      • Posts: 146 Eric Seidman

        Avatar of Eric Seidman

        Chuck, nobody is saying Valdez didn’t serve a purpose. The point I made above, and that hk reiterated here, is that even a utility/sub-type player that cost ~$1 million and is found on many teams around the league (Valdez’s DO grow on trees) was able to bring back a potentially valuable bullpen piece. Yet Schierholtz was let go for nothing when numerous teams were after him. The “even Valdez” or “Valdez of all people” was used to indicate that a player you normally don’t peg as being worth much of anything on the trade market netted the Phillies a decent piece. Not that he was worthless to the Phils or anything.

      • Posts: 0 George

        Concerning Schierholtz: “should have” is not even close to “will.” Nate’s value probably increased 10-fold to those eleven teams when they knew they could get him without surrendering even a prospect they’d given up on. A one position player with limited upside, like Schierholz, may not be any more valuable than a utility infielder who can at least fill in at multiple positions. I’m not going to say that Amaro didn’t misread the market, because he very well might have. But I will say it’s also quite possible he checked around and got no takers.As fans, we just can’t know with any certainty.

        The Phils perhaps got incredibly lucky with Valdez. The Reds wanted a utility guy, and had no need for a pitcher who at the time wasn’t considered to be more than minor league material. One only needs to check the PN archives to re-read all the initial complaints about dumping Valdez.

        The last thing I’ll say on this is even if Amaro did misread the market, it probably only cost him a warm body. Big deal!

    • Posts: 0 hk


      I didn’t mean to write him off as nothing as much as to say what Eric said better than I did, that Valdez and his like basically do grow on trees, so if Valdez brought back a decent asset, so should have Schierholtz. I couldn’t say “Mini-Mart of all people” because Mini-Mart has never been traded and I cannot imagine any GM giving up anything of value for him.

  • Posts: 0 Vernon Dozier Sr.

    • Posts: 0 schmenkman

      Ouch. Interesting indeed. I wonder whether his extremely small sample of 37 at bats in the majors, or somewhat larger sample in the DWL would have changed this outlook.

    • Posts: 0 Ken Bland

      The opinions expressed in that piece don’t include anything that hasn’t bveen expressed elsewhere. You’d have to say that there’s no firm evidence from what we have seen of him that the writer’s views certainly negate possibility of coming to fruition.

      That side addressed, it also seems fair to point out that the piece was penned on September 3rd. And while the stretch of games Ruf finally got to play in were not as meaningful as could be, he did play pretty well in them, and it’s not discredible to say he deserves a chance to expose himself more in spring training. Keeping in mind that the trio of Orr, Martinez and Valdez all hit over .400 one spring training assures us that too is a controlled environment of sorts, but at least qualified judges within the Phillies brass will have had more chance to see if his limitations aren’t offset by some ability.

      Truthfully, I suspect the Phils would have tarded him this winter if there was a market for him. But the guy has more or less forced people to press for further evaluation of him, and he seems deserving of a little more open mindedness than to accept that scouting report as a safe bet. But I wouldn’t disrespect it, either. Even though it was written pre Ruf’s Phillies play last year.

  • Posts: 0 Psujoe

    Bottom line is if RAJ wasn’t going to tender Scheirhlltz an offer or get something for him then he should’ve got a different piece in the pence deal.

    Moving on I believe time to take inventory in Spring traing and go from there.

    • Posts: 0 George

      Maybe, maybe not. It would have depended on a number of factors. For one, the scouts may have thought Nate S. would work out, and it was only when he got to Philly that he maybe didn’t fit in, was a pain in the butt, or just plain proved he was only a second rate player. Another consideration is that possibly the Giants weren’t willing to give up the player the Phils actually wanted the most. It could have been a situation where they told Amaro, “If you want Joseph, you have to take Schierholtz.” Some trades have occured where the lesser piece in a deal gets traded, DFAed, or non-tendered before they’ve even gotten their uniform dirty.

  • Posts: 0 Ken Bland

    here’s a devlopment I feel has some intruige to it. I remember how hot to trot the Red Sox were, well, their fans, at least, last year whenthey acquired Andrew Bailey to replace Papelbon. His year was forgetful, but at 28 years old, unless the injury he had is more long term than I’m aware, I just assumed they’d use him as their closer this year.

    Joel Hanrahan, who carries his own question marks, said today he’s been told he’ll get the 9th by John Farrell. It’s extremely easy to see where Bailey should still be very important to the Boston club, but with Ellsbury stil hanging around, and perhaps the BoSox not as enthralled with Bailey as they might have been a year ago, I wonder if there might not have been a trade possibility between Boston and the Phils. I’m excited about Mike Adams, but Bailey’s from the Philly area, a Phillie fan growing up, and might have made for a nice fit. He’s certainly no more expensive. Plus, the depth of closing experience, what seems a plus in the eyes of Rich Dubee wouldn’t have lacked appeal.

    What’s done is done, but before the Phils signed Adams, I wonder if they even talked to Boston about Bailey. I wonder how long Cherington had it in mind to take Bailey out of the closer role. Health willing, a huge if since I don’t know his recovery deal, I’d expect Andrew to have a good ’13. I’m more up in the air about Hanrahan’s ability to do so.

  • Posts: 146 Eric Seidman

    Avatar of Eric Seidman

    I’m honestly puzzled because the logical reasons to non-tender him — if there are any — are contradicted by the Phillies actions this offseason.

    For instance, one reason to get out from under his modest ~$1.5 mil salary through arbitration or settling would be that they already had Nix under contract and couldn’t spare even $1-$2 million since they were going after a BJ Upton or Michael Bourn or Hamilton on a big deal. But then their offer to Upton was a joke, no offers were reportedly made to Bourn, and they weren’t realistic fits for Hamilton, even at 3/$80 because a slew of teams were going to offer him that type of contract. Plus, Hamilton says he never got anything from the Phils, whether that’s true or not.

    I really feel like the Phillies either misjudged his value or thought very highly of Nix in that role. If they go out and don’t use Nix in a similar role this year it’ll be even more puzzling. Guys like Schierholtz — who hit righties to the tune of a 112 wRC+ over the last three years, with very good defense, decent baserunning and who are cost-controlled and relatively cheap — don’t grow on trees.

    And the Phillies just let him go, period. I mean, even friggin’ Wilson Valdez brought the Phillies Jeremy Horst. Schierholtz was sought after by numerous teams after being non-tendered. The Phils could have extracted a Horst or a similar player for him. They didn’t need a big return for him, but just something, especially considering the worst-case scenario was having to keep a valuable player on the roster at a minimal cost.

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