In a serious surprise, the Chicago Cubs have today traded outfielder David DeJesus to the Washington Nationals, against whom they begin a four-game series today.
Because of his reasonable contract, veteran presence, and adequate production in center field, DeJesus was expected not to clear waivers in August. If he was claimed on waivers, he could be traded, but only to the team that claimed him. At this point, it isn’t known whether DeJesus cleared waivers and was traded to the Nats, or was claimed by the Nats and subsequently traded.
Either way, it’s a surprise. Although Junior Lake’s emergence as a maybe-possible guy for 2014, DeJesus still offered the ability to play all over the outfield and offer quality at bats, particularly at the top of the lineup. The Cubs had control over him for 2014 on a $6.5 million option, which may have made him more attractive to the Nationals (though it makes for an expensive 4th outfielder).
Don’t let the PTBNL return get you down just yet. We’re approaching the end of the minor league season, and it could be that the Cubs are legitimately just choosing between a couple nice prospects. This way, the Cubs get a little more evaluation time.
Obviously we’ll have more on this as it comes out.
UPDATE: Carrie Muskat and Mark Gonzales both also report the trade. Brian Bogusevic will be activated from the disabled list, and will take DeJesus’s spot on the roster, per Gonzales. Given that the Cubs can also bring back Bogusevic on the cheap next year if they like him, it’s all the more understandable that they’d like to open up a spot for him for “try-out” purposes. Keep in mind, Ryan Sweeney will soon be back as well, and he’s another possible option for 2014.
UPDATE 2: The Cubs have confirmed. DeJesus for a PTBNL. Had this deal come at the Deadline, there would be no surprise at all, so I suppose – in terms of roster construction and long-term plan – there’s no surprise today, save for the fact that it was a waiver deal.
UPDATE 3: The money aspect of the deal breaks down thusly: the Cubs save about $1 million in salary this year, and then save the $1.5 million buyout on DeJesus’s 2014 option (the minimum to which they’d be obligated). While money hopefully wasn’t the motivator here, it obviously matters.
UPDATE 4: Speculating on the return, I’d think it would probably be in the range of what the Cubs got for Scott Hairston (also from the Nationals). That was pitching prospect Ivan Pineyro, who has thrown very well at High-A. He was a 20 to 30 organizational guy.
UPDATE 5: Although I’ll discuss this more later, Ken Rosenthal says DeJesus was claimed on waivers by the Nationals, which gave the Cubs the opportunity to be off the hook for the $2.5 million referenced above. If that was the approach all sides were taking, the return here might be pretty slim. In other words, had he cleared waivers, it would have been possible for the Cubs to chip in some salary to land a decent prospect (not every team views a $6.5 million 3rd/4th outfielder as a good investment). Since he did not, and the Cubs and Nats worked out a deal, I’m thinking the money was the biggest part of the deal from the Cubs’ perspective.