Let’s face it, the Royals were not going to be a good baseball team in 2011 – with or without David DeJesus. That does not mean I won’t miss David DeJesus, nor does it mean that I understand this trade.
Nick and I discussed DeJesus at length on last night’s podcast and pretty much summed up his legacy in Kansas City in one word: ‘unappreciated’. Sure, it would have been nice if David was a competent base stealer or hit for more power, but in the end he was without question the Royals most consistent player on the roster from the middle of 2004 until his season came to an end last July in New York.
In 876 games with the Royals, David compiled a career line of .289/.360/.427 with an OPS+ of 108. According to Fangraphs, DeJesus was 18.3 wins above replacement level during that time. Those numbers were almost rock solid year to year. You could plug DeJesus in your lineup and know exactly what you were going to get each and every year.
There was a lot of crap spouted from people who should know better that ‘DeJesus was a fourth outfielder on a contending team’ that was just flat out wrong. I have written at least three articles over time on the subject and I don’t remember finding more than one contending team that had THREE outfielders better than DeJesus.
David DeJesus was a good player, not an All-Star, not Carlos Beltran and it would have been nice if he was a step faster or tad stronger, but in the end he was major league regular with above average skills….on any team in the league, not just the Royals.
That said, trading DeJesus is not a bad plan. He is going to turn thirty-one next month and was going to cost the Royals $6 million this season. David was coming off a thumb injury, which can do funny things to a hitter. One could make the case that DeJesus might struggle for a couple months coming back from the injury and reduce his trade value at the deadline this coming July.
It was also very possible that DeJesus could come back one hundred percent on Opening Day, build on his successful 2010 and have a great season on a bad team and leave for bigger money and more years.
So, there were reasons for trading David DeJesus, but you wonder why Dayton Moore was in such a rush to do so. Several scenarios come to mind:
- Dayton Moore likes to make an early trade. We all have ways of doing things that may or may not make sense and during his time as GM, Moore has shown a tendency to want to leap out of the off-season gate.
- Money, money, money. This trade saves the Royals roughly $5.5 million in 2011. That is money that might be earmarked for arbitration eligible players, maybe a move in the free agent market (cringe) or simply sent to the bottom line where it will hopefully be stashed for future contracts.
- Vin Mazzaro throws from the right side. The big names in the Royals’ system, the future saviors of the starting rotation, are mainly lefthanders. Could it be that Mazzaro, who at age twenty-four has under 600 minor league innings and 150 major league innings on his resume, is about to blossom into a middle of the rotation righthander to break up the lefties soon to arrive?
- There really, really is a plan. Almost every move Dayton Moore has made has always seemed to be the first of what surely will be several corresponding moves. In reality, there have been no corresponding moves, but maybe this time there really will be.
Last night, Nick asked me to rate this trade on a scale of 1 to 10 and I called it a ‘five’. Having DeJesus in the outfield in 2011 was not going to make the Royals contenders. Having Mazzaro in the rotation and Marks in the minors is not going to make them contenders in 2011, either, but it could help them be one in 2012 or 2013.
You would have liked to received a more established player coming back in exchange for DeJesus or at least given the market some time to truly establish his trade value. All things being equal, I would have been inclined to wait for losers in the Carl Crawford and Jayson Werth bidding to at least kick the tires on DeJesus.
While it is very possible this move was more financially driven than anything else, you would like to think there is a grander scheme at play here. That this trade is the first in a series of roster moves designed to make the Royals possible contenders in 2012 instead of 2013 or 2014. You would like to think that this deal is more than just hopingthat Vin Mazzaro becomes a good major league starter.