The Arizona Diamondbacks’ signing of free-agent left fielder Jason Kubel in December prompted immediate speculation that the team might trade outfielder Gerardo Parra.
Well, the D-Backs indeed might trade an outfielder eventually, particularly if Triple A prospects A.J. Pollock and Adam Eaton develop the way that the team envisions.
But the player they move won’t necessarily be Parra.
By the end of the season — if not before — the D-Backs’ depth will give them the option to trade one of their prospects, or perhaps even Kubel or center fielder Chris Young.
While none of the veteran outfielders is prohibitively expensive, the developments of Pollock and Eaton would enable the D-Backs to go younger and cheaper. Both prospects play all three outfield positions.
Young, 28, is signed for $7 million this season and $8.5 million next season with an $11 million option for 2014.
Kubel, 29, is signed for $7.5 million this season and $7.5 million next season with a $7.5 million option in ’14.
Parra, 24, will be eligible for arbitration for the first time next winter.
Kubel is the least likely to be dealt, at least short-term. As a newly signed free agent, he cannot be traded without his consent before June 15. The D-Backs, who value his power, probably wouldn’t want to move him, anyway.
Young, an All-Star in 2010 who has produced back-to-back 20-homer seasons while playing above-average defense, is a more interesting case.
Say the D-Backs decide at the end of the season that Parra could be Young’s equal, or that Pollock or Eaton is the long-term answer in center.
Young still would be under club control for two more seasons and $19.5 million — a more affordable rate than potential free agents Shane Victorino, Michael Bourn and B.J. Upton likely would command on the open market.
Of course, Parra and the two prospects would be even cheaper — and potentially more coveted.
The signing of Kubel, which some in the industry found curious, created all of those possibilities.
The D-Backs can sit back and wait, then pick and choose.
— Ken Rosenthal