The Indians have traded for OF/DH Jason Kubel, sending a minor leaguer and cash to the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for the power-hitting lefty, who has struggled this season. The deal was first reported by AZCentral Sports' Nick Piecoro, and was confirmed shortly after midnight (Cleveland time).
Kubel was designated for assignment on Tuesday, having posted a tepid line of .220/.288/.324 in 267 plate appearances with Arizona this season, good for an wRC+ of just 63, among the worst in baseball. However, his wRC+ was 116 in 2012, when he hit a career-high 30 home runs. As you may have noticed, the Indians offense has been terrible lately, with an AL worst wRC+ of 83 in the month of April. Kubel may be something of a long shot to provide much help, but there's little harm in giving him a few turns in place of Michael Brantley, and keeping Jason Giambi from serving as anything more than a pinch-hitter.
This move will also have almost zero financial cost for the Tribe:
If Kubel is able to get back to his 2012 form, he'd provide a serious shot in the arm for a team sorely in need of one.
Kubel will probably start against right-handed hitters either in right field (until Ryan Raburn comes back at least) or DH. His current contract does include a $7.5M team option, but I very much doubt the Indians pick that up. Matt Carson will probably be designated for assignment to make room for Kubel on the 25-man roster.
Perhaps there's something that I'm missing, but I'm not sure why the Indians had to actually trade a minor-league player* for Kubel. This is a very similar situation to that of Mark Reynolds, who was eventually released by the Indians after being Designated for Assignment earlier this month. Both Kubel and Reynolds were having awful seasons (though Reynolds did give the Indians a great month of April) and had been buried on the bench. I suppose that this is the best the Indians could do after other options (Josh Willingham, for example) were claimed/blocked by other teams. One player the Indians had an opportunity to acquire - David DeJesus - would have been a perfect fit, but for whatever reason they didn't place a waiver claim on him.
That the Indians had to resort to going after Jason Kubel tells you about the state of the outfield depth in the organization. Michael Bourn missed a month earlier in the year, but until Raburn's injury, the Tribe outfielders have been pretty healthy. And it's a very good thing that they've been healthy. Tim Fedroff, Ezequiel Carrera, Matt Carson, and Jeremy Hermida are the guys that have played in the outfield for Columbus, and based on their production at AAA, aren't going to hit at the major-league level.
He was eventually DFA'd to make room for David Holmberg's spot start, and frankly, I'm astonished that any team saw fit to offer anything in exchange for Kubel. Obviously, a return to the American League is best, where he can DH without having to worry about fielding. But he was just so wretched with the bat of late - since June 22, his line was .141/.211/.192, for a .403 OPS - that it's hard to see why any team would want him.
*Who for all I know could be someone very insignificant, but it's still a player, and the Indians would be picking up Kubel's remaining salary and option buyout.