The Kubel question

Before I dive into more research for today’s edition of “The Mid-Atlantic Sports Report” on MASN, I wanted to tackle the inquires concerning Diamondbacks outfielder Jason Kubel and the possibility that the Orioles will trade for him.

If you followed the Winter Meetings closely, you know that the Orioles discussed Kubel with Arizona officials. It was reported that they had interest in him earlier this month, and it’s being reported again today that they’re interested in him.

What do I take from all of this? The Orioles are interested in Jason Kubel.

The issue remains what the Diamondbacks want in return. It was deemed too much back in December before the Orioles re-signed outfielder Nate McLouth.

Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette will have to surrender some pitching to acquire Kubel, 30, who batted .253/.327/.506 with 30 doubles, four triples, 30 homers and 90 RBIs in 141 games last season. The 30 homers were a career high. Kubel hit 28 with the Twins in 2009, when he also drove in 103 runs.

The 151 strikeouts in 506 at-bats last season also were a career high. The Orioles shed 259 strikeouts from last year by not retaining Mark Reynolds and Robert Andino.

Duquette has been hesitant to dip into his supply of young pitching, knowing how badly he needed that depth last season. However, he’s still trying to re-sign veteran left-hander Joe Saunders, and interest remains in the Tigers’ Rick Porcello. He’s indicated that he’s more focused on finding another pitcher than a middle-of-the-order bat.

If the Diamondbacks ease up on their demands for Kubel, the Orioles could become more serious about trading for him. If they deal Justin Upton instead - and the Braves reportedly have increased their efforts to nab him - Kubel will be off the table.

I’ve been asked how Nolan Reimold would be impacted by Kubel. Not much, in my opinion, since Kubel bats from the left side.

Perhaps McLouth would lose a little playing time in left field against right-handed pitching. Or Kubel becomes the primary designated hitter, which would greatly impact Wilson Betemit, who isn’t nearly as effective from the right side.

Danny Valencia is trying to make the team as the right-handed designated hitter and backup third baseman, but he has an option remaining and could be the starting third baseman at Triple-A Norfolk.

We should know by the end of the week whether the Diamondbacks are trading Kubel or Upton. Until then, I wouldn’t get too worked up over all the rumors. Plenty of baseball executives have seen the Orioles as a logical fit for plenty of players this winter, including first baseman Adam LaRoche, first baseman/outfielder Nick Swisher and pitcher Kyle Lohse.

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