This Date In Transaction History: DeJesus, Castro

It was on or around this date when a couple of interesting transactions occurred over the last two seasons. Together, they show some of the possibilities that we could still see over the last dozen or so days of the month.

Last year, the Nationals completed the acquisition of outfielder David DeJesus from the Cubs on August 19th after claiming him off revocable waivers in the days before. And on today’s date in 2012, the Cubs reportedly reached agreement with shortstop Starlin Castro on a seven-year, $60MM extension.

The DeJesus transaction was somewhat curiously received at the time — there was even a suggestion that it had been a mistake — but makes better sense in retrospect. Though the foundering Nats would go on to make a decent but too-late run at postseason contention, the club was well out of the race at the time. And the veteran DeJesus had roughly $2.5MM in guaranteed money left on his deal (including a buyout of a $6.5MM option for this season). As it turned out, DeJesus was placed back on waivers almost immediately and was claimed by the Rays, who ultimately shipped minor league pitcher Matthew Spann to D.C. for the outfielder.

In various comments, Nationals GM Mike Rizzo explained that he had been making use of the team’s “positioning on the waiver wire,” believing that the club could add a prospect by making the claim. Though Spann was not a major add, Rizzo said that he was pleased to add system depth and believed he might have done better if DeJesus had cleared. He also indicated that the team would have been comfortable keeping DeJesus and intended to pursue him in free agency if his option were to be declined. (DeJesus ultimately had his option picked up and signed an extension with Tampa.) Indeed, Washington went on to sign left-handed hitting outfielder Nate McLouth to a two-year, $10.75MM free agent deal that was nearly identical to the two years and $10.5MM that DeJesus got from the Rays.

Let’s turn to Castro, who was just 22 years of age at the time of his deal and signed away the remainder of his twenties for a nice guarantee. Castro was to qualify for arbitration as a Super Two player at the end of the 2012 season, and the extension covered all of his arb eligibility while also buying up three projected free agent-eligible seasons. That deal looked questionable last year, when Castro slumped to a .245/.284/.347 campaign, but Castro has restored his shine in 2014. Over 528 plate appearances, he owns a .286/.333/.433 triple-slash with 13 home runs. He has been valued at 1.7 rWAR, though a more favorable defensive rating from UZR (as opposed to the Total Zone metric utilized by Baseball-Reference) boosts Castro’s fWAR to a strong 2.6 mark.

As things stand, the contract looks to be a solid asset, and it will be interesting to see whether Chicago ultimately looks to cash it in for an alternative, such as young pitching. Though Castro is still just 24, and could be an important anchor for the team’s hoped-for renaissance, the Cubs also have a much-championed assortment of talented, even younger middle infielders filtering up. Arismendy Alcantara and Javier Baez have already reached the bigs, while the recently-acquired Addison Russell is playing at Double-A. While there is certainly no rush for the team to make any moves, and plenty of options remain for allocating those young bats around the field, Castro’s extended control makes for ample flexibility.


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24 Comments on "This Date In Transaction History: DeJesus, Castro"


11 months 17 days ago

I love these types of articles.

It’ll be interesting to see how Castro’s value is impacted by the shortstop jam in Chicago. Much of that will be determined by his future performance, but it’s hard to see teams overpaying for his services if it becomes clear that the Cubs need the lineup spot for someone else.

godzillacub
11 months 17 days ago

I’m confused about the idea of a shortstop jam in Chicago. The “jam” at this point is having Russell in AA and Castro in the majors. Baez is at 2nd now (and for the foreseeable future) and Alcantara is in CF.

Furthermore, the idea of a jam presumes Baez, Russell, and Alcantara all work out . . . which is really, really optimistic.

11 months 17 days ago

I guess the jam isn’t really a jam just yet.

I was focused more on Russell. If he works out, then Castro’s value goes down presumably.

bigbadjohnny
11 months 17 days ago

based on what?

Melvin Mendoza, Jr.
11 months 17 days ago

It’s economics. The better Russell is, the more desperate the Cubs are to get rid of Castro. i.e. teams will be willing to give up significantly less for him because they know the Cubs value him less.

godzillacub
11 months 17 days ago

It’s actually a pretty bad negotiation strategy to try to get the Cubs to undervalue their 3 time All-Star, cost-controlled, young shortstop due to presenting him as a “problem.”

It’s also something that’s easily seen through as he can just . . . move Castro or Russell to 3rd? Fixed the problem.

petrie000
11 months 17 days ago

Baez to 3b, Bryant to RF (where scouts actually like his defensive potential better since he played well there in college), and Castro and Russell fill out 2b and and SS depending on Russell’s development with Alcantara in CF.

nobody ‘needs’ to go anywhere and on paper that’s a fine line-up both offensively and defensively.

bigbadjohnny
11 months 17 days ago

Castro is on a $60 million contract….which is very reasonable…..so no need to “dump” Castro for any reason…..Miguel Cabrera was a 3B and changed to1B……Castro is very similar to Cabrera…..Castro can play any position If Russell plays SS…….I think he will end up in LF.

godzillacub
11 months 17 days ago

Or Castro moves to 3rd with Russell being the better defender at shortstop?

Having a good shortstop and a good shortstop prospect with 3rd base open doesn’t really sound like a “jam” to me.

Pete Harnisch
11 months 17 days ago

Kris Bryant will play 3rd.

godzillacub
11 months 17 days ago

Or here goes to a corner OF position ala Alex Gordon.

The Cubs aren’t lacking for holes for these guys to fill, it’s not like we have a boon of talent on the MLB roster blocking these prospects.

Pete Harnisch
11 months 17 days ago

Soler has one corner position locked down. I guess LF is a possibility. The Cubs also have Olt who can play 3rd.

godzillacub
11 months 17 days ago

I don’t think the 25 year old Mike Olt who is back in AAA right now is really someone who you note as “blocking” anyone.

You tell Theo that the Cubs need to move Castro or Russell on the cheap because Mike Olt and Theo will laugh at you.

Pete Harnisch
11 months 17 days ago

Never said Olt was blocking him. Just saying – if you need your #1-2 prospect to change positions, there is a “jam”

bobbybaseball
11 months 17 days ago

I agree. Lots of power, but I don’t think he will make enough contact to ever be an everyday player.

bigbadjohnny
11 months 17 days ago

Soler in RF.

bobbybaseball
11 months 17 days ago

He certainly has the arm to play there. And there is no reason why Bryant *has* to move off of 3rd base. People point to his size but I think he still has a chance to stay at the hot corner.

Trock
11 months 17 days ago

I don’t see Castro being traded at all. If anything he can move to 3rd with Bryant going to RF. Have also heard people suggest Alcantara moves to third and Castro to the OF with Bryant and Soler. Assuming all of their prospects pan out (which we know is a very slim chance, the lineup could be:
1st: Rizzo
2nd: Baez
SS: Russell
3rd: Castro
LF: Soler
CF: Alcantara
RF: Bryant
A log jam could happen if they don’t see Castro fit at another position. I don’t think that drops his value because they dont necessarly HAVE to trade him. If anything I could see him getting plenty at bats while giving guys a day off. If they do decide to trade him (whether it be from a log jam or not) the team acquiring him will have to give up a nice haul for a 3 time allstar SS.

Bob Bunker
11 months 17 days ago

Baez and Alcantara are both young (21 and 22) but both have been a little concerning in their time at MLB.

Baez is a true power threat with a .250 ISO and .500 Slugging but has two walks in 60 PA and a nearly 40% K%. This continues a trend of low walk rates, high K percentages, and big time power in the minors. If he doesn’t make serious adjustments he could be Adam Dunn with more defensive value but no walks.

Alcantara is a tougher one to judge his walk percentage is decent, his K percentage is good for a 22 year olds first taste in the bigs, but he doesn’t have power potential. He is really going to have to develop his hit tool, speed, and defense to be a impact player.

bobbybaseball
11 months 17 days ago

Small sample size in both cases. Cannot judge anything based on that. To borrow a football quote, Baez seems to be who we thought he was – power-laden but strikeout prone. And of course Alcantara is struggling with breaking stuff, lots of young players do.

Vivid_Reality
11 months 17 days ago

The scary thing is that looking at Baez’s overall minor league numbers don’t tell the whole story. He has had a clear adjustment period at every level. Once he picks up a level he demolishes it. The front office is trying to get that adjustment period out of the way right now. No one expects his numbers to be pretty. This is actually right in line with how I thought he would preform but with a little more power than I anticipated. He’s never going to strike out less than 20% but the walks will come with the adjustment and it will make his numbers sustainable. Thats the theory at least.

Bob Bunker
11 months 16 days ago

I think Baez might end up busting maybe they should end up trading him while his value is at all time high knowing they have Castro and Russell. Not sure what kind of return wold be needed though.

bigbadjohnny
11 months 17 days ago

No jam at shortstop…..no one is on the trade table……only one talking trade is the NY media……..and if Theo decides to trade a shortstop or any player….the other teams will have to pay the price with top notch prospects………please refer to Billy Beane on that subject matter.

Kent Kimes
11 months 16 days ago

A year later, I still think the Nats claimed DeJesus to keep the Braves from getting him.