David DeJesus Rumors

Cubs Ready To Sell

We're just under six weeks away from the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. At this point, many teams are still attempting to determine whether or not they're buyers or sellers, and the addition of a second Wild Card in each league has made that a longer process than it was in the past. However, ESPN's Buster Olney has spoken to rival evaluators who have said that the Cubs are "open for business" and ready to sell (ESPN Insider required and recommended).

The Cubs are 13 games below .500 and 17 games out of first place in the National League Central as of this morning, so their stance is a clear one. Nate Schierholtz, Kevin Gregg, Scott Feldman, David DeJesus (when healthy), Alfonso Soriano, James Russell and Matt Garza are the names that figure to be on the trading block as the Cubs field calls, writes Olney. His piece also includes much more info on potential matches for the Cubs and which divisions may be the first to become active on the trade front.

My take on the Cubs' situation: Being the first team to sell pieces has its advantages and disadvantages. Obviously, the Cubs will have more teams to work with at this juncture. Early in the trading season, with so few teams ready to declare themselves sellers, buyers will have few other places to turn. Trading for a player like Garza or Feldman right now would give the acquiring team an extra few starts from the pitcher they're trading precious prospects for. Acquiring a position player in late June as opposed to late July could mean an extra 20 to 30 games out of that player.

On the flipside of the coin, teams may not be as desperate right now as they would be in the final hours leading up to the deadline. Oftentimes, big deals go down with just hours or minutes to go before the trade deadline, as teams have decided that one final push is worth the risk. Recent examples of July 31 blockbusters include both Hunter Pence trades, the Ubaldo Jimenez trade and the White Sox's acquisition of Jake Peavy. Each of these deals included high-profile prospects being exchanged for star-caliber players, though obviously not all of them worked out.

Injuries can also occur in the next month that would make buyers out of teams who are currently not looking. Conversely, one of the Cubs' trade chips could incur an injury, which would leave president Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer one less piece to work with.

Selling pieces early takes away some of the "desperation" leverage from the Cubs, but it also will likely increase their number of suitors, creating more competition for their players. Epstein and Hoyer will have to determine how to walk that line over the next several weeks as they look to build toward the future.


Trade Candidate: David DeJesus

David DeJesus is no stranger to hearing his name come up on the rumor mill. He was one of the more attractive trade chips on the July trade market in 2010 before he injured his hand and ultimately required surgery. That was poor timing for the Royals, who saw one of their best chips lose all its value. DeJesus was ultimately shipped to the A's in the offseason for Vin Mazzaro and Justin Marks — hardly the type of package they could've gotten in July when he was hitting .318/.384/.443.  DeJesus

The Cubs will soon find themselves in an uncannily similar situation with DeJesus. The 33-year-old is making $4.25MM this season with a $6.5MM club option for the 2014 season. Those salary figures are almost identical to DeJesus' $4.7MM 2010 salary and the $6MM club option included on that contract.

DeJesus is off to a strong start; he's hitting .274/.342/.500 with four homers and a pair of stolen bases. The power numbers aren't likely to continue to be so impressive, but DeJesus posted a .350 OBP last year and has turned in a .347 OBP or better in all but one season since debuting with the Royals in 2003. He's probably miscast as a center fielder at this stage of his career, but defensive metrics have typically been a fan of his work at a corner spot — particularly left field.

He's not without his warts; DeJesus used to handle left-handed pitching fairly well, but he looks to be a strict platoon player as he enters his mid-30s. He has just one hit and a walk in 12 plate appearances against southpaws this season after hitting just .149/.289/.149 in 115 PAs against same-handed pitching for the Cubs in 2012.

Assuming history doesn't repeat itself with an untimely injury for DeJesus this summer, Cubs GM Jed Hoyer will likely have an attractive trade chip on his hands. DeJesus isn't the type of name you see in blockbuster summer deals, but he's an affordable, veteran on-base machine that could be a nice boost to a contender with a weak outfield alignment. The cheap club option makes him more than a rental, and teams like the Tigers, Rangers, Giants and White Sox could all have interest in DeJesus if their current left field options continue to falter. A reunion with the Royals would actually make loads of sense, as he could platoon with Jeff Francoeur, who is hitting .205/.241/.301 against right-handed pitching but .321/.367/.429 against lefties.

DeJesus isn't an elite bat, but given his history of strong OBP numbers and an affordable club option for 2014, I'd imagine he could net at least one of a trade partner's Top 10 prospects with another respectable piece in the deal as well.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Quick Hits: Yankees, Overbay, Rolen, Gardenhire

The Yankees are still looking for help at both corner infield spots and no shortage of veteran names have been mentioned in connection to the search.   CBS Sports' Jon Heyman (via Twitter) wonders if New York would be interested in Pirates first baseman Gaby Sanchez, who "appears to be available."  The Yankees have also been scouting Lyle Overbay, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports, and Overbay can opt out of his minor league deal with the Red Sox on Tuesday if he isn't on Boston's Major League roster.  As of now, however, Cafardo believes Overbay would "probably" make the Red Sox.

Here's some more news from around baseball as we head into the weekend…



AL West Notes: Rangers, Ross, DeJesus

Could Zack Greinke and Josh Hamilton end up re-signing in the AL West? The answer to that question will have ramifications within the division and throughout the sport. Here are today’s AL West links…

  • Texas GM Jon Daniels said the Rangers are looking at various options in free agency and on the trade market, Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com reports. While Daniels isn't going to rush a move, the Rangers could strike soon.
  • The Mariners are among the teams interested in free agent outfielder Cody Ross, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (on Twitter). Seattle has been linked to just about every free agent bat as they attempt to add offense. So far the Mariners have agreed to a one-year, $1MM deal with Jason Bay.
  • Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports suggests signing Hamilton wouldn’t solve all of the Mariners’ problems. If they aren’t prepared to increase spending up and down the roster, adding a player like Hamilton would not be the answer. Morosi suggests the Mariners might want to pursue a trade for David DeJesus of the Cubs.

Quick Hits: Orioles, Angels, Reyes, Cubs

The latest news from MLB as the countdown to next week’s Winter Meetings continues…  

  • Brian Cashman admitted to John Harper of the New York Daily News that he's often tempted by potential deals, but the Yankees' GM maintains that he's far from desperate this offseason. “We’ve got a really good team, so I don’t feel like I have to do something stupid,” Cashman said. “If I’m going to do something this winter, I have to feel good about it. I don’t care how big the name is.” 
  • The Orioles have been impressed by Cuban center fielder Yoenis Cespedes, Jon Heyman of SI.com reports (on Twitter). 
  • Angels GM Jerry Dipoto says he's still looking for starters and relievers, according to Bill Shaikin of the LA Times (on Twitter).
  • Phillies officials tell ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark that they have no knowledge of Jose Reyes’ recent presence in Philadelphia. The team isn’t considering a $100MM contract or anything close to it for any free agent, including Reyes, Stark reports. 
  • Cubs GM Jed Hoyer says he doesn’t view the newly-acquired David DeJesus as a platoon player, according to MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat. DeJesus, who agreed to a two-year, $10MM deal today, may get days off against select left-handed starters, however. 
  • MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes discussed the Cubs’ offseason, including a potential Matt Garza trade, at Bleacher Nation. As Tim points out, Hoyer encountered a similar situation last offseason when he was weighing offers for Adrian Gonzalez.

Cubs Reach Agreement With David DeJesus

The Cubs reached an agreement with outfielder David DeJesus, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.  It's a two-year deal, tweets MLB.com's Jane Lee.  The Cubs confirmed the deal on Twitter, noting the inclusion of a club option for 2014.  The contract guarantees $10MM, tweets SI's Jon Heyman.  Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune tweets salary details.  DeJesus will be the Cubs' regular right fielder.  He makes his offseason home in Wheaton, Illinois, according to the Cubs' press release.

DeJesus

DeJesus, 31, had a disappointing offensive season for the Athletics after being traded from the Royals a year ago, hitting .240/.323/.376 in 506 plate appearances.  In his Royals career, DeJesus hit .289/.360/.427 in 3,799 plate appearances.  Despite his offensive struggles in 2011, DeJesus was worth over two wins last year according to FanGraphs, partially on account of strong right field defense.  He's logged over 1,700 innings at each outfield position in the course of his nine-year career.  DeJesus was offered arbitration by the A's last week, so they'll receive a supplemental draft pick in 2012 for their loss.

DeJesus marks the first signing under new Cubs president Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer.  Epstein had interest in acquiring the outfielder for the Red Sox at the 2010 trade deadline until he tore a ligament in his thumb.  DeJesus, an ACES client, ranked 29th on our top 50 free agents list, and I'm proud to say I actually predicted this one correctly in MLBTR's contest.  With four of ten correct I rank 150th overall; six people are tied with six correct picks.

Photo courtesy of Icon SMI.


American League Free Agent Arbitration Offers

10 American League teams have free agent arbitration offer decisions to make, and we'll update them in this post throughout the day in advance of the 11pm central time deadline.  For a fantastic customizable chart with all 57 Type A/B free agents and their teams' decisions in real-time, click here

Updated team decisions:

Teams with decisions still due:


A’s Notes: Willingham, Crisp, Matsui, DeJesus

All three of the Athletics’ starting outfielders hit free agency this offseason and with so much uncertainty surrounding the team's future, retaining the trio won't be easy. Here's the latest on the Athletics from Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle:

  • Agent Matt Sosnick told Slusser that the A’s “aren’t going to make an offer” to Josh Willingham unless they get a decision on their stadium situation first. It doesn’t appear that the A’s are currently able to offer a multiyear deal, according to Sosnick.
  • Coco Crisp’s agent, Steve Comte, has a similar take on Oakland’s willingness to spend and says GM Billy Beane is limited by the the team’s uncertain stadium situation. “It is difficult,” Comte told Slusser. “I feel bad for any organization that is in the quagmire the A's are in because they do have to overpay to get good players to go there.”
  • Crisp is looking to play for a competitive West Coast team and the Giants are a “viable” option for him, according to Comte.
  • Slusser reports that Oakland's interest in bringing Hideki Matsui back has cooled off.
  • The A’s are expected to offer Willingham (Type A) and David DeJesus (Type B) arbitration, as Slusser notes.

Athletics Rumors: Crisp, DeJesus, Harden

The Athletics currently project for the ninth pick in next year's draft, though that could change by the end of Wednesday.  The latest A's info, courtesy of Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle:

  • Coco Crisp's agent Steve Comte agreed with Matt Sosnick's comments about the Athletics' offseason spending hinging on MLB's decision on the team's new stadium.  Comte hasn't spoken to A's GM Billy Beane recently, but noted the long-term impact of the stadium issue was apparent back in Spring Training.  Nonetheless, Crisp and his agent will keep an open mind and "see what the market brings."  Crisp, 31, has a .267/.317/.384 line in 575 plate appearances, with 48 steals in 57 tries.  It's been Crisp's healthiest year since '07, but he's posted his worst walk rate since '06.  UZR suggests his defense was slightly below-average this year, but Crisp's ability to simply play a passable center field regularly makes him valuable.  Given the state of the free agent market at the position, I think a two-year deal is probable.  Slusser's sources expect the Giants to be interested.
  • Signing Brandon McCarthy for a $1MM base salary was one of the best moves of the offseason, and the 28-year-old righty considers his season a successful comeback.  For less than $2MM in total, he's provided a 3.32 ERA, 6.5 K/9, 1.3 BB/9, 0.58 HR/9, and 46.7% groundball rate in 170 2/3 innings.  His ERA ranks 13th in the American League and his five complete games tie him for second.  The cherry on top: McCarthy is arbitration eligible for 2012 and should be affordable again.
  • Slusser talked to A's outfielder David DeJesus, who said, "This year wasn't me.  I want to break things down and understand what went wrong."  DeJesus, 31, slipped to .237/.321/.374 in 502 plate appearances and may have been affected by losing his status as an everyday player.  Slusser expects the Padres to be in the mix for the bounceback candidate, who will become a free agent shortly.
  • Righty Rich Harden said he'd "definitely be open" to returning to the A's in 2012.  The 29-year-old made all his starts since his July 1st season debut, posting a 5.12 ERA, 9.9 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, 1.85 HR/9, and 31.5% groundball rate in 82 2/3 innings.
  • Hideki Matsui is not really proud of his numbers this year, the designated hitter told Joe Stiglich of the San Jose Mercury News through a translator.  Matsui, 37, hit .251/.321/.376 in 576 plate appearances.
  • In our latest Elias Rankings projections, Crisp, Harden, and Matsui projected for neither Type A nor B status, while DeJesus projected for Type B.

Free Agent Stock Watch: David DeJesus

When the Athletics acquired David DeJesus last winter, the outfielder's stock was at a high. Although he appeared in only 91 games in 2010, DeJesus posted career highs in average (.318), OBP (.384), and OPS (.827), and played his usual solid corner outfield defense. Unfortunately for the A's, DeJesus has followed up that performance with perhaps the worst season of his career. In 125 games with Oakland, the 31-year-old has hit .236/.322/.369, his OPS dropping nearly 140 points from a year ago.

AAH110506105_Athletics_v_Royals It's likely little consolation to the A's that the main piece they traded for DeJesus, young right-hander Vin Mazzaro, took a step back this year in Kansas City. Mazzaro still has time to turn things around for the Royals, while DeJesus figures to become a free agent in a matter of weeks.

As our latest Elias projections show, DeJesus comfortably ranks as a Type B, so he won't cost a draft pick even if he turns down arbitration. Of course, with a salary of $6MM this year, DeJesus might be a good bet to accept an arbitration offer, given this season's performance. The payroll-conscious A's could probably only offer arb to the outfielder if he agreed to decline it in order to net them a draft pick. Either way, DeJesus figures to hit the open market.

This year's class of outfielders isn't particularly stacked, so despite his down year, DeJesus should draw interest. His batting average on balls in play (.271) is 45 points below his career mark, and his walk rate (9.1%) matches a career high, suggesting that he's a candidate to bounce back. It wouldn't be the first time he came back strong after a disappointing year – he followed up a subpar 2007 season (.722 OPS) by hitting .307/.366/.452 in 2008.

So what sort of contract could make sense for both DeJesus and an interested team? Carlos Pena's deal with the Cubs could be an interesting comparison. The two are very different players, and DeJesus won't earn the $10MM the Cubs are paying Pena for a year of his services, but their career trajectories are similar. Pena entered free agency for the first time last year coming off his worst season, and elected to sign a one-year deal, presumably in hopes of rebuilding his value and landing a multiyear contract this coming winter. The approach seems to have worked – Pena's OPS has jumped 100 points in Chicago this season, setting him up nicely for the offseason.

For DeJesus, a one-year deal playing in a better hitter's park than Oakland's could be the most effective way to rebuild his value and earn a bigger payday down the road. Given the outfielder's promising peripheral numbers, the team that signs him could very well be getting solid value for 2012.

Photo courtesy of Icon SMI.