The Could They, Would They, Should They of Trading David DeJesus

When Melky Cabrera’s PED suspension was announced yesterday, Alfonso Soriano was the first name on most Chicago Cubs fans’ lips.

The second was David DeJesus.

The hurdles that make Soriano largely untradable – his no-trade rights, his age (36), his contract ($18 million per year in 2013 and 2014) – are mostly absent with respect to DeJesus. He has no such no-trade rights, he’s just 32, and he’s signed to an eminently reasonable contract, which pays him just $4.25 million next year (and includes a $6.5 million team option for 2014 with a $1.5 million buyout).

And, like Soriano, DeJesus has been productive. His line - .270/.363/.399 – isn’t overwhelming, but it’s good for a 107 OPS+. Add in the fact that he plays good defense in any outfield position and runs the bases well, and you’ve got a valuable addition to almost any team.

That is all to say, it makes sense that DeJesus’s name would come up in trade rumors with a team like the Giants, among others, looking to add an outfielder.

But could the Cubs actually trade him? Would they? Should they?

As for the “could the Cubs,” the issue there is the August trade waiver situation. In order to trade DeJesus to the Giants, for example, he would either have to clear waivers (in essence, be offered for free to every team in baseball (contract and all), and each team would have to say, “no thanks”), or would have to be claimed by the Giants and by no other team with a worse record in the NL. I could certainly see the Giants claiming DeJesus, given his reasonable contract. But might a team in the NL with a slightly worse record step in and claim him first? We don’t know when exactly DeJesus will be placed on waivers (or if he has been already), so we don’t know exactly which team would have priority over the Giants at the time of the claim. The Dodgers, you’ll note, have a better record than the Giants by just one game – if they flip spots before DeJesus is waived, you better believe the Dodgers will claim DeJesus to block him from going to the Giants, knowing full well that the Cubs aren’t going to let him go for nothing, and knowing that they aren’t actually going to make a decent offer in trade. Thus, DeJesus would stay with the Cubs.

Could the Cubs trade DeJesus? Sure, it’s possible. But it isn’t a slam dunk.

As for the “would the Cubs,” the issue is primarily tied to what kind of value DeJesus could net in return. If DeJesus could land the Cubs a pitching prospect with number 2 upside, for example, they’re pulling that trigger. When the Cubs signed guys like DeJesus and Paul Maholm (not to mention trading for guys like Ian Stewart and Chris Volstad), I’m sure there was at least some thinking that perhaps they would rebound, and generate significant trade value. But you can’t just go trading away every free agent you sign within the first year, otherwise you’ll never sign another free agent again (at least not the ones you really want). So, there has to be some measure of restraint when putting together these deals. Would DeJesus net enough in trade to make the Cubs pull the trigger? Well, as noted, his contract is good, and his production is above average. But, short of a desperation situation like in San Francisco, is he really a significant upgrade in the outfield for the various contenders around baseball? If you go team by team, you’ll find that there are very few top teams for whom DeJesus would be a clear and obvious upgrade. Don’t get me wrong, he could play on just about any team … if they didn’t already have a completed outfield.

Would the Cubs trade DeJesus? Sure, if the price was right. But I’m not sure the price would reach that level.

Finally, as for the “should the Cubs,” the issue here is closely related to the “would they.” If DeJesus could net a haul in prospects, the “should they” becomes the same as the “would they.” They should and would. But, because I’m not sure DeJesus would net a huge return, it’s fair to question whether his value to the Cubs is greater on the roster than off. Consider this: if DeJesus were gone, the Cubs would head into the offseason with an outfield that consisted of a guy they desperately want to trade (Soriano), a young player who is probably still a question mark (Brett Jackson), and a flash in the pan who’s probably more of a first baseman (Bryan LaHair). The Cubs’ performance in 2013 may not be of tremendous import to everyone – I’m referring to those of you who believe the Cubs are going to be terrible next year no matter what – but it never makes sense to throw away a season in January. DeJesus is cheap and productive, and the Cubs could always deal him mid-season next year if they were so inclined.

Further, DeJesus provides value not only on the field, but also in the clubhouse. He’s a hard-worker, an upbeat type, and he’s almost certainly a positive influence on the Cubs’ young core (see this recent ESPNChicago piece – DeJesus relishes the opportunity to be a mentor). I’m not going to bust out Chemistry Cat, but having steady, positive, veteran influences around a young team has value that is difficult to quantify. DeJesus (and Soriano, frankly) is the kind of guy that adds something to an organization beyond his stat sheet. Whether what he adds, when taken together with his production, is enough to convince the Cubs to keep him in the face of a good trade offer, well that’s a separate discussion entirely.

Should the Cubs trade DeJesus? Sure, if they’re faced with an undeniable offer. But I don’t think one is coming, and I think I’m OK with that.

So, ultimately, what happens with DeJesus? I suppose I’m not sure that his value as an upgrade to another team is sufficiently high enough to overcome his value to the Cubs in 2013. I’m also not sure, as I said, that DeJesus would clear waivers (or would make far enough up the ladder to a team willing to part with a significant package for him).

Taken together, I don’t think DeJesus will be dealt this month, or in the offseason. This front office will always consider offers, of course, and you never know what might come down the pipeline.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

22 responses to “The Could They, Would They, Should They of Trading David DeJesus”

  1. BD

    “But you can’t just go trading away every free agent you sign within the first year, otherwise you’ll never sign another free agent again (at least not the ones you really want).”

    I disagree. I think it can be explained to the players you want, especially considering you want them to keep them. And I think it becomes easier the better the player (and the more you want them). If Theo said “Hey (insert star’s name here), we want to sign you for 10 years. We don’t want to trade you because we’re building around you. We traded all those other guys to build up the organization.”

    1. DocPeterWimsey

      If Theo said “Hey (insert star’s name here), we want to sign you for 10 years. We don’t want to trade you because we’re building around you. We traded all those other guys to build up the organization.”

      To which the player (or his agent) says. “I like that. I like that a lot. Now, put that in writing.”

      One of the older CBA’s gave players the right to demand a trade if they were traded within the first year of a multiyear contract to a new team. Does that still exist?

      1. Frank

        Right—it’s called a “No Trade Clause.”

      2. BD

        That’s fine with me. If you are signing a player that you are building around, what is the chance you are going to trade them?

        Disclaimer: this does NOT include Alfonso Soriano. His signing was too get a big name and try to buy a title. Theo isn’t giving some 30 year old that long of a contract AND a no-trade clause unless he is an ELITE player.

        1. ptbnl

          That would work if you only signed “elite” free agents. The average to above average probably wouldn’t want a part of you unless you overpay them. I don’t think most players would sign with you if they thought there was a good chance you would ship them somewhere within a year.

  2. Andrewmoore4isu

    The cubs will have to pay higher price in free agency if players believe they are just going to be traded

  3. Chris

    I think as the roster stands right now, and factoring in his salary, DeJesus is probably worth more to the Cubs than they could get back in trade with another team. For all the reasons Brett states above, he’s a good guy to have on the roster. Now if there was a significant prospect that could be had, you’d have to pull the trigger. Or, if Soler/Sczcur/Ha/Almora/etc. were closer to the majors, maybe you could afford to move him in order to give a young guy an opening to move up into. Since that’s not the case, you might as well hold on to him until the 2013 trade deadline and then hope he can be packaged with Garza or someone else to get a decent prospect package back. And hopefully by then, Ha or Szczur are ready for their Wrigley audition, and can be stop gaps until Almora and/or Soler are ready to take their places.

  4. MoneyBoy

    Damn that was well done Brett!!

  5. Tommy

    I think we better hang on to him. None of us want to see the Iowa Cubs playing a full season at Wrigley. They haven’t exactly been tearing up the PCL this year.

  6. Spriggs

    Brett, I think you broke down the whole thing beautifully. I agree with your reasoning all the way through on this. I’d only change one word… the “probably” more of a first baseman part of your LaHair description.

  7. True(ly) Blue

    I don’t think that the Cubs could get value for DeJesus for all the reasons that Brett clearly explained. If you can’t get a deal that makes a big impact why would you trade him? He is a solid pro who add some stability to an unstable and struggling lineup. Good Lord! Only 25% of top 10 draft picks make the majors. Why trade a valuable and reasonably priced player for a “Pie in the sky”? Yikes!!!!!!!

  8. rcleven

    You can’t get anything for DD if you don’t put him on the market.
    Put him up on wavers. Play let’s make a deal and if you don’t like what is offered pull him back.
    Like they say with the lottery you can’t win if you don’t play.

  9. cubmig

    My advice to Theo&Co: Concentrate on finding a new home for Soriano, the guy you are sure needs to go. Why spin your wheels trying to package DeJesus as a test case to see what his value is (assuming none of you have an idea about that)? DeJesus is fulfilling a role that can be a plus for your developing neophytes. DeJesus is showing you his value. Why shoot yourself in the collective foot? Unless………

  10. FFP

    I like your breakdown, Brett.

    I love this photoshop– As a Christian who rarely uses naughty words (I know–game threads) I have always had an uncomfortable fondness of the Big Lobowski references. This pic says more to me than words here ever had.

    1. FFP

      “I think the dude spells it LEbowski.”

      “Shut up, Donny.”

  11. die hard

    Keep DeJesus as hes best 4th OF theyve got for next year assuming kids take over as they should

    1. nkniacc13

      which would make sense except they really don’t have any OF ready to come up to the majors next year

  12. fearbobafett

    Agents if they are worried are going to start asking for things in year 1 or 2 of deals that would act like NTCs but not be a NTC. Extra money if traded, buyout if traded, etc…

    Let’s face it the players the cubs signed this off-season were not really wanted out there, and all that hav been moved are playing on a contender right now, so good for them. A player should want to win not hang around this losing team.

    Last point, the A’s keep managing to sign players and trade them away within 1 or 2 years and they keep getting players. You can not tell me that was not the plan with Cespedas, just they are winning so Beane can’t cash in on that one.

  13. Master Dan

    I agree with you Brett, DeJesus won’t be traded. Perfectly written article.

  14. Fastball

    Nice Article Brett. Don’t see how the Cubs can really afford to move DeJesus at this time. We don’t have any replacements for him and won’t for a least 24 months. (from within)
    We would just have to go back out on the free agent market and get someone else which is kind of a waste of time for what we could get in return on a DeJesus trade. I see DeJesus becoming a Reed Johnsn for the Cubs in 2014 or 2015.