CLEVELAND (AP) — The Indians found someone to boost their sagging offense. They now have to hope it’s not too late.
After scoring just three runs in three games while being swept in Atlanta, the Indians acquired outfielder Jason Kubel and cash on Friday from Arizona to help their playoff push.
Kubel, who hit 30 homers last season for the Diamondbacks, has struggled in 2013, his second year with Arizona. He was designated for assignment earlier this week.
In exchange for Kubel, the Diamondbacks will receive a player to be named later or cash.
A left-handed hitter, the 31-year-old joins Cleveland just as it opens a three-game series in Detroit. The Indians trail the AL Central-leading Tigers by 6 games and are four back in the wild-card chase.
“We’re excited to bring him back to the American League and give him a chance to contribute,” Indians general manager Chris Antonetti said.
Kubel was batting just .220 with five homers and 32 RBIs in 89 games, and had been reduced to mainly pinch-hitting duties before Arizona designated him on Tuesday. The Diamondbacks had 10 days to trade, release or put Kubel on waivers, but found a trading partner with the Indians, who are in a collective batting slump at the worst possible time.
The Indians went 0-for-18 with runners in scoring position against the Braves, and everyone in Cleveland’s batting order is underperforming. The Indians are batting only .238 since the All-Star break and .227 in August. Their leading hitter, All-Star second baseman Jason Kipnis, is batting .285 entering the weekend.
“He’s another left-handed bat,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona said. “We don’t know how much he’ll play.”
Antonetti said Kubel can play some outfield and will be used as a designated hitter and to pinch-hit over the season’s final month — and hopefully in the playoffs.
“It’ll be nice to have another bat here,” Francona said. “If he gets a big hit or two, it won’t bother us.”
Kubel, who is not expected to join the Indians until Saturday in Detroit, spent seven seasons in Minnesota before signing as a free agent with Arizona in 2011. He’s making $7.5 million this year with a club option worth $7.5 million for next season.
Kubel’s familiarity with the AL Central is another reason the Indians acquired him. Of Cleveland’s final 29 games, 19 are against divisional opponents.
Also, the Indians signed free agent catcher Kelly Shoppach to a minor league deal and assigned him to Triple-A Columbus.
Shoppach spent four seasons (2006-09) with the Indians after he was acquired in a trade with from Boston. The 33-year-old spent the first 2 months with Seattle, batting just .196 with three homers and nine RBIs in 35 games before he was released on June 20.
“Kelly offers us an opportunity to improve our depth,” Antonetti said. “He’s a veteran catcher who has had success at the big league level. He can still run a game, handle a pitching staff and control the running game.”
Shoppach was also with Washington’s and Pittsburgh’s Triple-A affiliates this season.