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Today, as had been rumored for a bit now, the Chicago Cubs signed outfielder David DeJesus to a reported two-year, $10 million contract. He gets $4.25 million in each of the next two years. The deal includes a team option for 2014 at $6.5 million, with a $1.5 million buyout.

DeJesus, 31 (32 next month), played his first season outside of Kansas City last year, in Oakland, and struggled, putting up a .240/.323/.376 line in a little over 500 plate appearances. He primarily played in the corner outfield spots in recent years, and is expected to be given a shot at the full-time job in right field next year (depending on how the outfield shakes out over the rest of the Winter). The move suggests top prospect Brett Jackson will not have a starting spot in the outfield unless one of Marlon Byrd or Alfonso Soriano are moved before Opening Day (there are rumors that this is a precursor to a Soriano trade, for what it’s worth). It also ensures that Tyler Colvin will be a 4th outfielder, at best, to start the year. Reed Johnson is even less likely to come back now.

For his career, DeJesus is a .284/.356/.421 hitter. The OBP is great, but it obviously isn’t the kind of power you expect to see out of a corner outfielder. Still, DeJesus plays above average defense, which has been something of a problem in the Wrigley outfield for a number of years. He’s patient at the plate, hits lefty, and is a veteran presence – all of which make him the kind of player Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have proclaimed to be their target this Winter.

Even in a down year, FanGraphs says DeJesus was 2.2 WAR player last year (“worth” $10 million), thanks to solid defense. It’s fair to expect him to bounce back offensively in 2012, after an unusually low .274 BABIP last year (batting average on balls in play – his career mark is .316, and a drop like that is usually attributable to mere bad luck, which tends to course correct the next year).

A two-year deal for DeJesus is acceptable, and the $5 million annual rate is a million short of what he made last year. It’s on the high end of what I’d previously estimated DeJesus would get (I said two years, $8 to 10 million), but that’s probably to be expected in the new CBA era.

The addition, at a relative value rate, doesn’t preclude the Cubs from making more substantial additions at the corner infield spots, and in the rotation. That, I suspect, was probably a big part of the allure of DeJesus.

Another allure? I get to say “Nobody F’s with DeJesus” over and over again this year. I can’t wait until the first Enhanced Box Score where DeJesus has a good game…

On the balance, it’s a solid move. Not earth-moving, but a good first step. I suspect it’s but one piece of a large, very exciting puzzle.

  • john

    Pujols is Alex Rodriguiz
    Who remembers the other teams Alex played for?
    Who in NY doesn’t regret signing him?

    • Joe Cartwright

      Alex Rodriguez doesn’t regret signing Alex Rodriguez.

  • Camiata2

    this may be early, but i say we nominate kim dejesus for the hot female in each and every series preview for the duration of her husband’s stay on the team.  to say she is easy on the eyes would be an understatement of epic purportions.

  • die hard

    DeJesus may be part of package with Garza for prospects. Thats only way to make sense of this signing.

    • jtfromthed

      I thought DeJesus was a free agent? How can a free agent be a part of a package?

      • hogie

        jtfromthed, meet die hard

        • TonyP

          LOL  @ Hogie

    • Pakman23

      Why would anyone sign a player to trade them?

      • die hard

        happens often…pre arranged with third team to sign FA and then package FA with another player in trade for third team’s players….

        • TonyP

          Examples please

          • http://cubbiescrib.com Luke

            I second that call for examples. I can think of cases from leagues that have salary caps, but I’m coming up short on baseball examples.

            • die hard

              The rules of free agency used to allow for a trade or assignment of a signed free agent to another team if the player gives prior written consent

          • die hard

            check out Theo trade for Bedard in August 2011….analogous given his status as FA….shows Theo penchant for impact 3 team trades

        • Pakman23

          1) I believe there is a mandatory 6 month waiting period before you are allowed to trade a player.
          2) If the above is not true: I have never seen that and follow baseball closely.

        • Max

          What possible benefit could there be for that strategy? Why would anyone desire a middle person in a free agent transaction? Like TonyP I’d like to hear examples.

        • hansman1982

          If the Cubs played basketball but I think Castro and Barney are too short to be PG and SG

        • hansman1982

          DieHard, do you listen to a lot of overnight talk radio?

          • CubFan Paul

            he listens to backwoods overnight Area 51 Enthusiasts Radio

        • Stinky Pete

          You’re not thinking of RuleV picks are you?

           

        • Jeff

          There is a provision that a player must sign with his contract that allows him to be traded after signing as a free agent.  Otherwise, they can’t be traded until June 15.

    • Kyle

      Sometimes when I’m in a hurry and can’t read all the comments, I’ll just search for “die hard”. Dude is always good for a head scratching chuckle.

  • DRock

    Brett, help me understand how DeJesus helps us build for the future while being competitive trying to win the World Series every year. He is 31 and in his best year (2008) He hit .307 with 12 homers and 73 rbi’s. Not bad, but not the kind of player that will put us over the top. Sounds like another Marlon Byrd or Fukudome. My opinion is, we need to focus on the corners (1B & 3B) and pitching before we spend free agent dollars on average outfielders.

    • JB88

      This move isn’t meant to put teh Cubs “over the top”, it is meant to put together an overall roster that focuses on certain metrics, mainly: (1) defense; (2) OBP; and (3) a certain plate approach, all things that DeJesus offers. Moreover, given his WAR (2.2), signing him at 4.25 MM per season is a value pick up. In other words, even though DeJesus had a down year last year, if you wanted to find someone of his replacement value it would cost you over $10MM per season. He is a good pick up and part of a larger vision.

      • DRock

        I understand all that about him “fitting the mold of Theo and Jed’s metrics”. Hope you’re right about him being a good pick up. I see him being a utility outfielder at best for us rather than an every day OF.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          If DeJesus is the only move the Cubs make, it’ll suck.

          But it won’t be. I strongly suspect this is just the beginning, and signing DeJesus was a necessary part of that plan.

          • DRock

            I know, DeJesus is just not an exciting signing…neither is a Chris Capuano potential signing…

            • EQ76

              DeJesus alone is a blah move.. so blah that it got about a 15 second bit on the MLB network’s hot stove show last night while they analyzed Bobby Valentine to Boston for about 48 minutes.

              However, if DeJesus is one of 8 or 9 solid moves this team makes this off season, then it’s a very smart play. Keep in mind that the Cubs last year were awful both defensively and back end of the rotation. DeJesus is an upgrade over our current situation from a defensive standpoint and could provide a solid bat in our lineup.

              I have a feeling at the end of this off season we’ll view the Cubs as major off season winners and view this signing as a solid, minor move.

    • http://cubbiescrib.com Luke

      The Cubs just signed a very good defensive outfielder who has a career OBP of .356 and can bat lead off or hit second, and they got him for a deal that is well below projected market value. I’m having a very hard time seeing a downside here.

      Building a baseball team is not like baking a cake. When you bake a cake, the ingredients have to go into the bowl in more or less the right order. You can’t take the steps out of order and wind up with a good cake.

      Building a baseball team is more like furnishing the kitchen. You know what you need: stove, oven, dishwasher, backup dishwasher, sink, refrigerator, backup to the backup dishwasher, and so on. And you know your requirements: the refrigerator must be shorter than six foot tall, the stove must be gas powered, etc. So you take your shopping list, set your budget for each item, and go shopping.

      But you would not turn down a great deal on a great sink because you haven’t bought the oven yet. Yes, the oven might be more important than the sink, but absolutely nothing about buying a great sink at a great price stops you from continuing your oven shopping. When you go shopping, you shop for everything on your list and you buy as you find what you want . There is no wrong order.

      There is absolutely nothing about the DeJesus deal that prevents the Cubs from continuing to talk with pitchers, corner infielders, or even other outfielders. The Cubs know what they need and they are able to multitask. They can shop for multiple parts at the same time. Signing DeJesus does not prevent them from talking with Fielder or Pena. It does not stop them from looking for pitching. The Cubs found a part they needed at a price they liked, so they bought. It does not affect the rest of their shopping list.

      Finally, when you bake a cake, you bake it all right now. When you furnish a kitchen, you might take weeks or even months to get all the right pieces at the right prices. Building the Cubs into a championship contender could take a couple of years. The market for free agent pitching is very thin this season, so odds are very good the Cubs will not reach spring training with a starting rotation that will win a World Series. Does that mean they should put all other plans to improve the team on hold until they find that starting rotation they are shopping for? Of course not. It just means that the team never stops shopping. They get what is available when it is available, cross it off the list, and just keep shopping.

      • DRock

        In Theo we trust, right? Hope DeJesus pans out. At least now we can say we have God on our side!

        • JasonB

          Yes – this is a good signing.  There’s more to a good baseball player than batting average and HRs – much more.  He’s the best OF on this team the minute he signs his contract.

          • CubFan Paul

            Agreed. & for only $4million ..that’s crazy

            • JasonB

              Or sad - probably a little bit of both.

              • DRock

                That is pretty sad if DeJesus is our best OF now…that’s how bad it currently is in the Cubs OF. Ouch.

    • Adam H

      Why are you hating on Byrd? He’s an excellent, hustling, hard-working outfielder that plays good d, gets on base and has power. Byrd was the best all-around player on the cubs. And of course DeJesus isn’t the BIG free agent 5-tool player. But it takes more than a superstar to win a ball game. It takes people getting on base, playing good D, and hustling at all times (see opposite of Soriano), as well as good pitching.

      • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

        Yes Byrd is a good guy but his BA/RISP was pathetic last year.

        • SweetJamesJones

          @MichiganGoat, I totally agree with you on that note.

          • DRock

            I love Byrd, but come on, he is not even a top 50 OF and I disagree with you on the power bat. He averages 8 homers a season for his career. We need more than just hard working, hustling players. We need TALENT. Period.

  • Michael C

    Diehard your crazier than John McLain

  • tjtrigo

    Even though the DeJesus signing doesn’t make them contenders, the Cubs have a high OBP to lead-off, which they don’t have, to hit in front of Fielder or Pujols.  In the eyes of those two guys, the Cubs look a little more attractive.

    • Deer

      this could be the most powerless Cubs team in recent memory. Even if they sign Fielder, who is going to hit behind him? I’m expecting some major moves next week.

      • DRock

        So true, deer.

      • http://cubbiescrib.com Luke

        It could also be the fastest Cubs team in recent memory. What they lack in power they might be able to make up for by taking the extra base, using the hit and run, and so forth.

        Castro, B. Jackson, and LeMahieu could all steal 15-20 bases a season. Campana can probably steal 25 pinch running and starting part time. I’d not be surprised to see DeJesus move back into the 10+ territory with the Cubs. Colvin, if he plays regularly, is probably a 10+ guy. Cespedes, if the Cubs land him, could easily be 20+.

        It will definitely be a different look for the Cubs, but that might be a good thing. It’ll be interesting, that’s for sure. I’ve never been a fan of standing around and waiting for the three run homer, but I’d like to get at least one really big bat in the middle of the lineup to make opposing pitchers nervous.

        • CubFan Paul

          They’ll be able to win games in April & May with that new look speed team

          • JasonB

            And having a lot of “power” has worked out so well for us in the last 103 years.  Baseball is not a HR hitting contest.

            Oh and with respect to HRs if there is one major difference between our ballpark and other ballparks, it’s our short power alleys.  With good flyball tracking data, there is a chance that we can exploit this to find hitters that can hit 15-20 HRs in our ballpark while they’ll only hit 10-15 anywhere else.  I don’t know if this is the case with DeJesus, but it’s something to think about.  After all, Epstein used Fenway to turn Bill Mueller into a batting champ

  • die hard

    Everyone is trying to rationalize and justify signing. Why need to if good move, unless you are still drunk on the Theo kool-aid. I offered an alternative theory because I cant believe hes a keeper if all of the accolades about Theo are true. Now, if not true, then I can believe and regret DeJesus is a keeper. If, however, hes going to be packaged to another team, then there is still hope for Theo as a shrewd wheeler and dealer. Lets wait and see.

    • DRock

      I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I agree with die hard on this one!

    • SweetJamesJones

      I really believe that Die hard sounds just like Ben Stein.

      • bacboris

        James, That’s offensive! Ben Stein can be funny and he’s definitely quite astute.

        • SweetJamesJones

          In respect to his monotone voice.

    • Deer

      DeJesus is clearly a precursor to big moves. An outfield of Sori, Byrd, and DeJesus would be horrendous. I’m hoping for a completely new OF within a week or 2.

      • JasonB

        It’s better than an OF of Colvin, Byrd and Sori.

    • http://cubbiescrib.com Luke

      If you had said the Cubs signed DeJesus because they had a deal in place to move Byrd and needed a Byrd-like replacement, I think you’d have a stronger argument.

    • Pakman23

      I think he is on to something here guys. Its pretty clear to me the Cubs have signed him to play goaltender for the Blackhawks. Given Corey Crawfords poor play and the fact that Dejesus has a hot wife, this is the only logical explanation.

  • Michael c

    I sincerely doubt they are trading dejesus he’s exactly the type of player te super friends said they would sign, also he’s a solid reliable player the problem everyone that has a problem with the signing is that they are used to the Jim hendry impact player only signing. Brett is right in that this is the precursor to big movesand it is not the cubs ONLY move . the cubs have unlimited options in the outfield with bjax, dejesus, soriano, Colvin, and Byrd, let alone the depth of outfield prospects and the possibility of cespedes, all of you nay sayers will bite your tongue when the outfield is bjax cespedes and dejesus. Theo and hoyer and all of us should want consistency speed and defense and if you find yourself saying normally I don’t want that normally I want power and average it’s because that’s all we’re used to because of Henry . Change is good and the possibilities for the cubs 2012 outfield look great to me.

  • KB

    Man, are some of you guys totally uninformed about the kind of thinking that goes on with Hoyer and Theo? This is EXACTLY the type of player they like: high OBP, excellent defense, undervalued, coming off a decidedly strange year of bad luck (his BABIP) that has diminished his value in the eyes of Hendryites, a non-name yet still superior to any current Cub OFer…it’s like a textbook move.

    Less Colvin and increased pressure to treat Soriano as a sunken cost?
    Sign me up!

    • Michael c

      That’s what I was trying to say you put it much better haha

    • Tony S

      Couldnt agree more with this comment. No point following the same old formula that got the team nowhere. Put the solid, ‘lesser’ pieces in place as opportunity arises and then work on landing the big free agents or trades.

  • Dumpman

    I’ve wanted this guy forever. I think hes a solid boucne back material. Classic buy low move. Solid so far. Hearing SOriano is close to being moved as well.

    • Larry

      Any idea how close that move is?

    • die hard

      Buy low would have been an incentive laden contract. This was highway robbery and the Cubs are the victims.

  • Dumpman

    Unfortunately, I’m not sure. I’ve read that its the A’s for a starter though. Dont get riled up, im just going by what I’ve read.

  • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

    I’m impressed by this move and see the 4.25M a year as a steal for a player that will be a quality defender and could have a bounce back year. Yes he is basically Fuk but for half the money. Good move.

    • DRock

      Good point.

  • KB

    He’s Fuk for one-third of the money.

    • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

      Exactly

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Ding. And that’s a good thing when constructing the rest of the team, considering what was available in the outfield.

      • die hard

        But FUK SUKKED which is the point of questioning this move

        • Jeff

          Fuk wasn’t worth 10-12 million a year, but he didn’t suck.

  • billy mitchell

    What is this ? Really ? Another average Joe. Play the kids and see what they have. If they don’t work out blame it on the past leadership. I’m so tired of .268 8hr 39rbi type players I could puke. I wake up every morning looking for great news and this is the sh*t I see. Makes me want to go back to bed.

    • die hard

      Agree unless packaged for prospects as suggested previously.

  • Ralph

    Will you explain “WAR” to me? I know it means “wins above replacement,” but what exactly does that mean?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      It’s an advanced mathematical calculation that attempts to determine how many more wins a particular player was worth in a given year, over what a “replacement level player” would have provided. It’s complex – too complex for me to fully grasp all the moving parts in the formula. The gist, however, is that it is a currently-favored statistic by which players can be compared to each other.

      • hansman1982

        What is the total number of wins that a team full of replacement players would achieve?  Is it the mythical 60?

        • JasonB

          46 (I think)

        • Jeff

          Baseball Prospectus estimates that a team of replacements would win 20-25 games.

          • hansman1982

            That seems really low…the Cubs had a total of 19 WAR last year per fangraphs.  The Phillies had 24, the Astros 17.

            I am sensing some sort of flaw here.

            • JasonB

              Just did a quick Google search for ‘replacement level team wins’

              Fangraphs puts it at 48; B-R puts it at 52

            • BetterNews

              You can take the WAR stats, and wipe your bum with them, because thats all they are good for.

            • Jeff

              Everyone has different WAR stats, so every site will have different numbers for replacement players.

              • BetterNews

                Right, so in effect, the numbers mean “nothing” except to “raise” discussion about something that has no relevance whatsoever. Not worth the time or effort seeking some kind of “holy grail” within those numbers!

                • Jeff

                  It seems like the only time anyone quotes WAR is when it suits their purpose.  I don’t think you’ll find too many posters here who pay much attention to it, there are other, far more telling stats to go by.

                  • BetterNews

                    Affirmative!

    • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

      Basically it’s saying that having a +WAR weans that the players is better than a average replacement player at that position. How it’s figured is point of debate and the two major sites (Fangraphs and Baseball Reference) report different WAR. Having a WAR of 2 isn’t anything to get excited about but means that he is better than your everyday average player, theoretically.

      • die hard

        If the WAR is less than 5…. fuggettaboutit

  • Ralph

    Does the scale typically move, for example, from -10 to +10 or some other “max” number or does it go as high or low in a negative and positive direction as the calculation will allow(+162 being the highest)?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I don’t believe it’s normalized like that – I think they keep track of things like “highest WAR season of all-time.”

  • Dougy D

    SUPER FRIENDS! That is great Michael c. It sure beats all of the THEHOYBURGER talk. I think DeJesus should be a good addition. I can’t say that I’ve seen much of him, as he was in the don’t make the pitchers hit league. Even if our team isn’t that competitive in 2012, at least we are moving towards solid all around players on the team. Great ball players don’t need big numbers, they just need to know how to play and know the intricacies of the game.

  • Ralph

    Looking around it seems like a guy with a + 6 to 8 ish WAR is a stud, so I guess it would be hard to top a + 10 . Interesting stuff.

  • BetterNews

    Great signing with DeJesus! Very good defensively and a .327 BA with runners in scoring position since 2008, putting him in “elite” company in this cat. as well as OBP. Also I tend to disagree this takes B. Jackson out of the mix in 2012, I see a Byrd or Soriano lurking around the corner! Very good start. Type of players we need. While the long ball is always thrilling, I think its these types of players that get you to the playoffs and the WS.

    • DRock

      Did not know that about his BA with runners in scoring position. And, he’s left-handed and a good defender. He probably is better than anyone we currently have to play OF, but I hope he bounces back from his .240 year last year…

      • BetterNews

        Thats the chance we are taking. I thnk Cubs fans will like!

  • Cardfan

    I applaud you for one reason… Mrs. DeJesus…

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