The baseball is covered in poo. - Thearon W. Henderson
It's not immediately obvious why the Sox would want to trade Gavin for Jason Kubel. One possibility is they're setting up further moves down the line.
A fine mahoke to you all. Pardon the excessive absence--or don't--but I thought it might be of some interest to go over exactly why Rick Hahn might be interested in sending away Gavin Floyd for Jason Kubel, a part Rob more or less describes as "bit" in his post earlier today.
On the team as constituted, yes, there is a role for Kubel. But it likely won't make up for the departure of Gavin Floyd. A lot of people for a variety of reasons have problems with Gavin, most of which I don't understand. I think I do understand where the problems come from. For one, Sox fans are spoiled. White Sox pitching has been outstanding since Don Cooper took up his post a decade ago. Combine that with Sox hitters dropping more than a few steaming piles against mediocre righties and it gets really hard to maintain perspective.
But for real: Gavin is solid and he's underpaid. You can't drop him and expect that production to be made up by Jason Kubel. Not even if he's starting. Gavin's been a 3 win pitcher on average over the past three seasons. Kubel's been basically replacement level.
So how can that trade begin to make any sense? It starts with all of Kubel's salary being paid for. Kubel's replacement level, so he should be making league minimum rather than the $7.5M he's actually owed this year. But that in itself doesn't really do a whole lot for the Sox. With just Kubel and his paid-for salary in the bag, the Sox still have a hole in the rotation and only $9.5M to fill it. Even if they were able to sign a starter at that salary, he'd likely be worse than Gavin. The Sox would end up paying the same salary figure and worse off. They have no real incentive to pull that deal.
Okay, so Kubel, his salary and a prospect? That could work. But I don't get the feeling that that would be everything. Hahn would have lost a starter off a team that's supposedly going to compete this year. And now they've got an extra left fielder in Dayan Viciedo. Dayan plus the salary they've freed up plus some other prospect throw-ins could land a legit starter who would both be paid more and perform better than Gavin.
On the other hand, that's awfully convoluted. Hahn's role, according to my blithe reading of the wikipedia entry, would be as market maker. It's not an easy one in a relatively illiquid player market and the odds are against it all working out. But at least each of those moves adds up and strikes me as rational. The world in which Hahn is feverishly calling around the league looking to make a slim profit on each of a cascade of deals is one I want to live in. And, barring an out-of-nowhere coup, it's basically the only way forward for a team that lacks the salary freedom and prospect depth to easily compete this season.