See? I told you Bill Smith was just waiting for me to cave. Within hours of my first entry in weeks, the Twins finally felt they could release the details of Jason Kubel's new contract. You're welcome.
The news was worth the wait. Kubel signed a 2-year, $7.2 million contract with a $5.25 million option for 2011. He'll make $2.75 million in 2009 and $4.1 million in 2010. The Twins get his prime years for an average of $4 million/season. That is a pittance for someone who will likely hit 20+ HR each season and bat 6th. Smith hasn't been very good at making trades, and he hasn't always picked the right guys to sign, but the contracts he's gotten have been pretty reasonable (except for Craig Monroe, in which case he got the lowest possible salary given the rules of that situation).
I am among the Twins bloggers who believes that we've yet to see the best of Kubel. His isolated power has been steadily improving over the past 3 seasons so that this year it matched that of Justin Morneau. He managed to drastically improve his HR rate while maintaining his K and BB rates. His BA has tended to underperform his line drive rates the past couple of years, which means it isn't far-fetched to think he could hit pretty close to .300 in the near future. In 2008, for example, if he'd had one more hit drop in every 2 weeks, he'd have finished the season at .300/.360/.499 - within spitting distance of Morneau (who hit .300/.374/.499). And that's just if they were singles. Maintaining his XBH rate would add 3 more doubles and 2 HR for a SLG% of .525. Add it up and he's just 1 hit every 2 weeks from being one of the better DHs in the league - not a steep hill to climb.
So I'm delighted that he'll not only be a part of the team for the next few seasons, but that he came so cheaply. This will leave plenty of room for complementary moves around him as other players reach arbitration. One thing fewer to worry about.