David DeJesus Rumors

East Notes: DeJesus, A-Rod, Flores

Mets majority owner Fred Wilpon is the new chairman of MLB’s finance committee, a move that was met with raised eyebrows given that he was a victim of Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme.  However, that’s not a concern to commissioner Rob Manfred, as Tyler Kepner of the New York Times writes.  “I understand the whole Madoff thing,” Manfred said, “but before and since, Fred Wilpon was an extraordinarily successful businessman. The committee — the finance and compensation committee — really deals with two issues, principally: executive compensation, which he’s more than capable of dealing with, and a central office budget. Obviously, to be a successful businessman, you have to know how to budget.”  More from the AL and NL East..

  • The Rays are still likely to add a middle infielder and outfielder David DeJesus is still likely to be traded, but one or both pursuits could carry into spring training, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.  DeJesus is owed $5MM this year with a $1MM buyout on a 2016 option, which makes him a reasonably priced target but also does not leave him with a ton of trade value.
  • Alex Rodriguez offered to meet face-to-face with Yankees executives to apologize for his role in the Biogenesis scandal and clear the air before players report to Tampa next month, according to Teri Thompson, Bill Madden, and Michael O’Keeffe of the Daily News.  However, the Yanks declined the invitation, which seems to indicate that the team is not ready to forgive and forget.  Sources tell the Daily News trio that the next battle will be over the performance clauses in A-Rod’s deal which call for him to earn $6MM each time he ties a career home run milestone.  Rodriguez needs just six more to tie Willie Mays’ 660 homers and earn a $6MM bonus.
  • Some people have expressed concern about the Mets‘ shortstop position after the team was unable to find an upgrade this winter.  However, Wilmer Flores insists that he’s ready and capable of filling the role.  “I’m not going to say I don’t hear things,” Flores said, according to Marc Carig of Newsday. “But I try not to because I know what I can do, man. Honestly, I know what I can do.”

East Notes: Rays, Yankees, Mets, Blue Jays

The Rays have made seven trades this offseason with an eye towards cutting payroll and retooling the franchise, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. “It’s a little bit of a threading of the needle,” said GM Matt Silverman. The trades were designed to give the 2015 product a chance to contend while improving the future of the franchise with players like Steven Souza and Daniel Robertson. The team cut payroll by about $10MM and escaped $12.5MM of future commitments. A possible trade of David DeJesus could trim costs by another $5MM. Here’s more from the eastern divisions.

  • With so many bad contracts on the books, it’s hard for the Yankees to swallow a big ticket purchase like Max Scherzer, writes Ken Davidoff of the New York Post. The Bombers have about $210MM committed to the 2015 product. More importantly, there are few roster spots for available for expensive free agents. Every big contract takes away from the roster’s flexibility. Based on the argument, my own conclusion is that the Yankees have to develop at least some young, cost-controlled stars.
  • Across town, the Mets have a payroll less than half that of the Yankees, yet they’ve done nothing to solve their supposed problem at shortstop. Wilmer Flores is the expected starter, although the club also has Ruben Tejada under contract. Of the major free agents, Hanley Ramirez signed to play outfield for the Red Sox while Jed Lowrie, Asdrubal Cabrera, and Stephen Drew don’t project to be much better than Flores. Flores will play on a league minimum contract and possesses growth potential. And as Davidoff notes, Flores is projected to be roughly league average by FanGraphs. For what it’s worth, I haven’t understood the fascination with bringing in a replacement for Flores and Tejada. The club appears to be better off at the position than half the league.
  • The Blue Jays are expected to feature three Canadian born players in the everyday lineup, writes Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com. While that doesn’t really affect the 2015 product in any obvious way, it could have long reaching ripple effects. Russell Martin noted how fellow Canadian Larry Walker inspired him when he was younger. With players like Martin, Michael Saunders, and Dalton Pompey now in the fold, Canadian youngsters have more talented ballplayers to emulate.

East Notes: Yankees, Rays, Moore, DeJesus, Duquette, Desmond, Kimbrel, Braves

The Yankees may not have stowed away their checkbook, as MLB.com’s Barry Bloom reports. Owner Hal Steinbrenner told reporters yesterday that time remained for moves. “It’s not over until it’s over,” he said. “We still have a full month before Spring Training. … [W]e’re still the New York Yankees, all you guys know that. We know what the fans expect. We know what the town expects. We’re not going to be afraid to spend money.”

  • If the Yankees are still the Yankees, then so too are the Rays still the Rays. As Andrew Astleford of FOX Sports Florida writes, trading away Ben Zobrist is just the latest reminder of the team’s continued strategies. “These trades are difficult, but they’re a necessary part of how we operate,” said president of baseball operations Matthew Silverman.
  • One other hallmark of the Rays method is early-career extensions, and one area of risk in such deals is injury, especially for pitchers. Lefty Matt Moore, who is controllable through 2019 under just such a contract, lost virtually all of last season due to Tommy John surgery. He is in a good physical and mental state, tweets Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, and hopes to return to the mound soon while building toward a return to the roster this coming June.
  • Topkin also wonders (via Twitter) whether the Braves and Rays could be a match on outfielder David DeJesus. The veteran is owed $5MM this year and a $1MM buyout on a 2016 option, which makes him a reasonably priced target but also does not leave him with a ton of trade value.
  • Though Orioles owner Peter Angelos threw cold water yesterday on the idea that momentum was building toward a deal that would result in executive VP Dan Duquette taking over the Blue Jays‘ front office, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports says that the possibility still remains. If nothing else, Duquette wants the job in Toronto, per the report, which chalks up the Angelos statement to negotiating tactics.
  • The Mets should make a hard push to acquire shortstop Ian Desmond from the Nationals, Rosenthal argues in the same piece. The recently-acquired Yunel Escobar provides an alternative to Desmond in D.C., and Rosenthal suggests that including Daniel Murphy and adding prospect value could make the trade palatable for the Nats. While I would not write off the idea entirely, it would seem likely that the Nationals would demand a particularly significant return to move Desmond to a rising division rival.
  • Staying in the division, Rosenthal says that the Braves should deal away closer Craig Kimbrel. The righty is an expensive luxury for a non-contending team, says Rosenthal, who does note that the club might get better value for him at the trade deadline. That may well be, but it would be interesting to see what teams would give up now for one of the game’s most dominant arms; I’m guessing quite a bit. For its part, Atlanta is “optimistic about the coming season” and has no interest in dealing away Kimbrel, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman tweets.
  • The ship has sailed at this point, of course, but Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution opines that the Braves may not have been in need of such a dramatic renovation. While the plan to re-build around young pitching obviously makes sense directionally, Bradley argues that the team now looks destined to be rather dreadful for the next season or two and wonders whether a less drastic plan could have been pursued.


Reactions To The Ben Zobrist Trade

Earlier today, the Rays agreed to swap Ben Zobrist and Yunel Escobar to the Athletics for John Jaso, infield prospect Daniel Robertson, and outfield prospect Boog Powell. The move represents a five or six win gain for the A’s, writes Keith Law of ESPN (Insider required). Per Law, Oakland lacked any “capable everyday middle infielders,” so the move is pure benefit at those positions. Here’s more reactions to the blockbuster.

  • While it’s been a hectic offseason for the A’s, the club still has another $5MM available, tweets John Hickey of Bay Area News Group. My impression is that the team is pretty well stocked at this point. I could see a role for a third catcher, backup outfielder, or middle reliever, but no need is particularly pressing.
  • Teams interested in Zobrist checked in with A’s GM Billy Beane within five minutes of the trade, tweets Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Zobrist appears to be a linchpin for the A’s, so a second trade strikes me as unlikely. Of course, Beane has shown this offseason that we can’t rule it out.
  • The acquisition of Zobrist and Escobar will allow the A’s to shift Marcus Semien into a utility role, writes Law. Semien was previously penciled in as the primary shortstop, but he’s better suited to second or third base. With Semien and Zobrist capable of playing all over the diamond, Oakland could possess the most flexible roster in the league.
  • “We see [Semien] as an everyday player, similar to Josh Harrison‘s role with the Pirates,” said Beane to reporters including Chris Haft of MLB.com. Meanwhile, Beane plans to leverage Zobrist’s versatility and switch-hitting to build excellent matchups. In the same article, Beane compared Robertson to former Athletic Mark Ellis.
  • Jaso is excited to return to Tampa Bay, tweets Matt Baker of the Tampa Bay Times. Per Baker, Jaso had identified the Rays earlier in the offseason as a team that might target him (also Twitter).
  • Jaso’s return to the Rays could allow the club to shop left-handed outfielder David DeJesus, according to Law. The veteran outfielder is owed $6MM in 2015, and the Rays have a reputation for careful management of the payroll. A trade would open more regular playing time for Kevin Kiermaier and Brandon Guyer. Jaso is expected to serve primarily as a designated hitter.
  • Beane’s re-tooling efforts are “fearless,” writes Richard Justice of MLB.com. The GM’s decision to trade multiple All Stars and established veterans to extend the club’s window to compete is nothing short of inspired. Justice also notes that manager Bob Melvin specializes in building cohesive teams. With so many new faces, Melvin will have his hands full.

Silverman On Rays’ Payroll, Catchers, Outfielders

Here’s the latest from Rays president of baseball operations Matt Silverman on the team’s offseason strategy, all via the Twitter feed of the Tampa Bay Times’ Marc Topkin.

  • The Rays’ 2015 payroll will be lower than it was in 2014, when it was around $80MM. Silverman says, however, that the Rays have no particular payroll figure in mind, and that they’ll have flexibility.
  • The Rays are looking for an experienced catcher to back up Ryan Hanigan, Silverman says.
  • The team could also sign a veteran starting pitcher, similar to Erik Bedard last season, to compete for innings while it waits for Matt Moore to return. Moore had Tommy John surgery last April.
  • The Rays appear likely to trade an outfielder, with Topkin unsurprisingly suggesting Matt Joyce or David DeJesus as the most likely possibilities, given their salaries. Silverman acknowledges that the Rays have had trade conversations regarding their outfielders. Topkin speculates there could be a chance they would trade Desmond Jennings as well.

Quick Hits: Upton, Montero, Rays, Hunter, Pirates

MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince names the ten players most likely to be traded this offseason and the Braves’ Justin Upton tops the list. Castrovince feels the Braves could obtain a similar, if not better, return than they received for Jason Heyward because Upton’s powerful bat has tremendous value.

Here are the latest notes from around baseball:

  • Miguel Montero placed tenth on Castrovince’s list and Buster Olney of ESPN.com (on Twitter) wonders if the hiring of Henry Blanco will create traction for the Cubs‘ interest in the Diamondbacks’ catcher, who was a Blanco pupil in 2014. The D’Backs have reportedly spoken with the Cubs, Dodgers, and White Sox about Montero.
  • With Jose Molina gone, the Rays are working to add a backup to Ryan Hanigan, either via trade or signing. They’d like a catcher with more experience than Curt Casali and, preferably, options, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.
  • More from Topkin who reports, in addition to an expected trade of Matt Joyce and/or David DeJesus, the Rays may be looking to deal from depth in reserve infielders and relievers. He identifies Logan Forsythe and Sean Rodriguez as infield trade possibilities and Brandon Gomes as a bullpen arm who could be moved.
  • It may not be “sexy,” but the Red Sox‘s pursuit of Pablo Sandoval makes perfect sense, writes Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald. The Red Sox appear to be one of the finalists for Sandoval, alongside the Padres and incumbent Giants.
  • Torii Hunter told Charley Walters of the Pioneer Press he favors the Twins among the teams with which he is considering signing. “(Twins General Manager) Terry Ryan and I have talked several times, and there’s definitely a common interest there, for sure,” the veteran said. Ten teams reportedly have interest in Hunter.
  • The Pirates could re-allocate the resources set aside for Russell Martin to pursue rotation and bullpen help, a first baseman, and/or sign some of their young core to extensions, according to Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Sherman On Marlins, Kang, Joyce, DeJesus, Braves

The latest out of the GM Meetings from the New York Post’s Joel Sherman

  • Regarding negotiations with Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins GM Dan Jennings tells Sherman, “There’s only one hope — we want to sign him.” Negotiations between the two sides are ongoing, Sherman writes, and the Marlins are aware with and comfortable with the fact that Stanton could require a $28-30MM annual value on a long-term deal. The relationship between the two sides seems to be in a good place, he adds.
  • In addition to a Stanton extension, Jennings told Sherman that the team would like to add a veteran starter either via free agency or trade to help stabilize the rotation while Jose Fernandez rehabs. They’d also like to add a middle-of-the-order bat to either hit behind Stanton or bat in front of him. This is my own speculation, but I listed Miami as a potential landing spot for Adam LaRoche in my free agent profile and picked him to land there in MLBTR’s Free Agent Prediction Contest as well.
  • Korean shortstop Jung-ho Kang is being represented by agent Alan Nero of Octagon, who joked to Sherman and other reporters that if Kang were coming from Cuba, he’d earn $100MM+ after hitting .354 with 39 homers. However, KBO is known to be a fairly low level of competition and an offense-friendly environment, and as Sherman notes, many scouts have expressed skepticism that his power will translate to Major League Baseball. Still, Kang is just 27, and Nero says his client feels comfortable playing shortstop, third base, second base and even center field.
  • The Rays are said to be working toward a trade of Jeremy Hellickson to an NL team, but he’s not the only candidate to be moved by Tampa. Sherman reports that they’d like to move Matt Joyce or David DeJesus as well.
  • It may seem counter-intuitive for the Braves to be aggressively shopping Evan Gattis when their team needs offense, but Sherman hears the team wants to diversify its offense after becoming too reliant on an all-or-nothing approach from right-handed hitters. The Braves also feel they have a big need in the rotation, as they’re looking to replace 400 innings from Ervin Santana and Aaron Harang.

NL Central Notes: Samardzija, Polanco, DeJesus

Homer Bailey‘s extension with the Reds could have a ripple effect within the NL Central, as Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times believes Bailey’s six-year, $105MM deal greatly exceeded a five-year extension offer the Cubs made to Jeff Samardzija.  It has been widely speculated that Samardzija will be traded or leave in free agency rather than remain a Cub, though Bailey himself isn’t so sure.  “I think the Cubs will spend money where they feel like it’s needed,” Bailey said.  “And maybe it will be Samardzija. We don’t know that.  The Cubs might be playing a bluff card. That’s part of going into a negotiation, too. There’s so many strategies.”

Here’s the latest from around the division…

  • If the Pirates are really keeping Gregory Polanco at Triple-A to keep him from reaching Super Two status, it’s a lose-lose situation for all parties, Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes.  Ownership could save money on Polanco’s future arbitration years, but Sawchik makes the point that those savings could cost the Bucs a playoff berth (and playoff revenue) this year since the Pirates need Polanco’s bat.
  • Polanco’s Triple-A dominance could be hurting him in some respects, MLB.com’s Tom Singer opines, as the Pirates might be waiting to see how Polanco deals with adversity before calling him up to the Major League level.
  • Polanco’s situation is detailed by ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick, and one scout had high praise for the young outfielder.  Polanco was called “as close to the perfect player as you can get” and the scout described him as “Dave Parker with more speed, and Darryl Strawberry without the off-field baggage.”
  • Unlike former teammate Matt Garza, David DeJesus didn’t necessarily feel relieved to be traded from the Cubs last summer, the outfielder tells CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney.  DeJesus still has a house in the Chicago suburbs and enjoyed his time in Wrigleyville, but the Cubs’ continual moving of veterans could harm the club’s youth movement.  “Young guys have to follow leadership. I followed Mike Sweeney,” DeJesus said.  “You learn how to be a professional at that time. When they keep losing those guys, it’s going to be tougher. They’re going to have to grow up real quickly.”

Rays, DeJesus Agree To Two-Year Deal

WEDNESDAY: Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune provides the breakdown of the new contract (on Twitter). DeJesus will be paid $4.25MM in 2014 and $5MM in 2015. The club option is valued at $5MM with a $1MM buyout. Topkin also tweets that DeJesus received a $250K signing bonus.

TUESDAY, 7:18pm: DeJesus' deal is worth $10.5MM over the first two seasons, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter).  Of course, the Rays also hold an option on the ACES client's third year.

MONDAY, 8:40am: The Rays and David DeJesus have agreed to a new two-year contract that will cover the 2014-15 seasons and include a club option for 2016, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (on Twitter).  DeJesus-David-Rays

DeJesus, 34 in December, took an interesting path to the Rays. Originally signed to a two-year, $10MM contract with the Cubs, he was claimed off waivers in August by the Nationals this summer. However, GM Mike Rizzo instantly put DeJesus back on waivers, and the Rays claimed him two days later. The Nationals ultimately acquired lefty Matthew Spann from the Rays in exchange for DeJesus, which appears to have been Rizzo's plan all along (to acquire a prospect — not Spann specifically).

DeJesus batted .260/.328/.413 in 35 games (117 plate appearances) with the Rays, adding three more hits in the playoffs as the Rays advanced to the ALDS — the first postseason experience of DeJesus' career. Overall on the season, DeJesus slashed .251/.327/.402 and played solid defense in all three outfield positions, per UZR (DRS didn't like his work in center, pegging him at -6 runs).

Rays manager Joe Maddon is no stranger to using platoons to his advantage, and he'll have to do that to maximize DeJesus' value. Though he could once handle his own against left-handed pitching, DeJesus is batting a ghastly .162/.248/.207 against southpaws dating back to 2011, signaling that he's a clear platoon bat at this stage of his career. The flipside of that is that he's done very well against right-handed pitchers, slashing .274/.356/.441 in 1,068 plate appearances.

Extending DeJesus calls into question Matt Joyce's future with the Rays, in my mind. The two are very similar players in the sense that each hits right-handed pitching well but must be platooned against left-handers. Joyce appears to be a trade candidate or non-tender candidate now (he's projected to earn $3.7MM). Perhaps Rays GM Andrew Friedman decided that if he's going to carry a platoon outfielder, he wants him to be a strong defender. Joyce's defensive metrics have slipped in right field in recent seasons, and he doesn't come with DeJesus' versatility, as he's played just 32 innings in center field in his Major League career.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Rays Exercise Club Option On David DeJesus, Discussing Extension

The Rays have exercised the club's $6.5MM option on outfielder David DeJesus, tweets Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. (With a $1.5MM buyout, this was effectively a $5MM decision.) Meanwhile, the sides are also discussing a multi-year extension, Topkin further tweets.

This news rates as at least a mild surprise, largely due to Tampa's historically lean payroll, which has landed just over $60MM at opening day the last two years. Looking ahead, the Rays owe $23.6MM to five players in 2014, and could spend right around $30MM on arbitration-eligible players. MLBTR's Mark Polishuk was among those who expected the option to be too pricey for GM Andrew Friedman to exercise it. Of course, if ace David Price finds a new home, his projected $13.1MM salary would open a lot of room.

DeJesus, who turns 34 in December, has been a solid-if-unspectacular contributor for some time now. He was exactly league average at the plate in terms of OPS last year, and he's never posted an OPS+ of under 91 or over 118 in a full season of action. (He played in just 91 games in 2010, when he managed a 127 OPS+ for the Royals.) Of course, the lefty has historically struggled against southpaws, with a .252/.321/.342 slash line that is dwarfed by his .289/.365/.447 line against righties. Even worse, that split has significantly worsened over the course of his career. Formerly just slightly below average against lefties, DeJesus has put up three straight wRC+ marks of 32 or lower when facing same-armed hurlers. DeJesus has divided his time about evenly between center field and the corner outfield, and is generally viewed as acceptable at the former and good at the latter.

The $6.5MM that DeJesus will earn next year becomes the largest annual payroll he's pulled down. He joined Tampa through the August non-revocable waiver trade market, after spending much of the season with the Cubs and then getting three at-bats with the Nationals on his way south.