December 2011

D-backs agree to terms with Kubel

PHOENIX — The D-backs have agreed to terms with free agent outfielder Jason Kubel on a two-year contract with an option, a baseball source confirmed Monday.

The move is somewhat surprising in that the D-backs had not been linked in any rumors to Kubel, nor had it seemed were they in the market for an outfielder.

Kubel, 29, hit .273 with 12 homers and 58 RBIs for the Twins in 2011. He was originally drafted by Minnesota in the 12th round of the 2000 First-Year Player Draft.

Kubel’s best season came in 2009 when he hit .300 with 28 homers, 103 RBIs and a career-best .907 OPS (on-base plus slugging). Over the last five seasons he has an OPS+ of over 100. OPS+ is a weighted metric that takes into account a multitude of factors and mark of 100 is considered average. Last season, Kubel’s OPS+ was 111.

Over his career, Kubel has split his time between right and left fields. With the D-backs, it would appear that he would become the starting left fielder with Gerardo Parra being shifted to a fourth outfield position or used in a trade to acquire another position of need.

Parra won a Gold Glove for his work in left last year and he hit .292 with eight homers and 46 RBIs. He can play all three outfield positions well making him an ideal backup. How many opportunities there will be, though, remains to be seen. Center fielder Chris Young played in 156 games last year while right fielder Justin Upton appeared in 159.

— Steve Gilbert

D-backs closing in on deal with Takashi Saito

PHOENIX — The D-backs are closing in on a one-year deal with free agent reliever Takashi Saito, a baseball source confirmed Monday.

Saito, 41, was 4-2 with a 2.03 ERA for the Brewers in 2011 while being limited to 30 games with oblique and calf issues.

In six seasons, the Japanese born right-hander has a 2.18 ERA and 84 saves. He had a career-best 39 saves with the Dodgers in 2007.

The D-backs had been in the market for a veteran reliever to pitch in a setup role and Saito certainly fits the bill. They expressed interest in him during last week’s Winter Meetings, but GM Kevin Towers wanted to wait until getting a veteran starting pitcher signed so he knew how much money he would have left in his budget.

– Steve Gilbert

D-backs to acquire Cahill

By Steve Gilbert and Jane Lee

The A’s and D-backs are closing in on a deal that will send right-hander Trevor Cahill and lefty reliever Craig Breslow to Arizona, learned on Friday.

In return, Oakland is expected to receive prized pitching prospect Jarrod Parker and outfielder Collin Cowgill, baseball sources confirmed. Another player could also be heading Oakland’s way in the multi-player package.

Cahill, who would fortify an already strong D-backs rotation, is owed $29 million over the next four years in a deal that also includes two club options. Oakland’s decision to move the 23-year-old only further represents their latest attempt at a rebuild while they wait word on a new stadium.

After a career 2010 season, which included an 18-8 record and 2.97 ERA, Cahill took a downturn in 2011, collecting a 12-14 mark and 4.16 ERA. However, he made a career-high 34 starts and has made at least 30 starts in each of his three big league seasons.

The 31-year-old Breslow is arbitration-eligible and has served as one of the game’s best left-handed relievers over the past three seasons, most recently putting together a 3.79 ERA in 69 games this season.

By reeling in Parker, a first-round Draft pick in 2007, the A’s get what’s considered to be Arizona’s top prospect. Following rehab from his 2010 Tommy John surgery, the 23-year-old right-hander posted an 11-8 record and 3.79 ERA for Arizona’s Double-A club this year.

Cowgill, meanwhile, batted .354 with 13 home runs and 70 RBIs in 98 games at the Triple-A level. He appeared in 36 contests with Arizona, hitting .239 with one homer and nine RBIs.

Saunders wants to stay with D-backs

Spoke with D-backs lefty Joe Saunders this morning who said he’s still hopeful of returning to the team. Saunders is eligible for salary arbitration and could command a salary of between $8 million to $9 million. The team seems interested in signing him to a two-year deal more so than paying what it would cost to go through arbitration with him.

“I do want to stay here,” Saunders said. “It’s just a matter of if the D-backs want to bring me back.”

The D-backs have until Dec. 12 to tender Saunders. If they decide to non-tender him he would become a free agent.

— Steve Gilbert