At the beginning of the off season, I suggested that David DeJesus (seen above in his rookie season getting choked out by Ken Harvey) might be one of the more undervalued position players on the market. His disastrous 2011, in which he appeared to have simply forgot how to hit against left handed pitching, would bring down the value of an otherwise good corner outfielder who can get on base and maintain a close to average independent slugging numbers.
Assuming that last season was an outlier, not necessarily an easy assumption considering he’ll be 32 years old next season, DeJesus would be an easy option for a front office looking for a platoon outfielder, and probably cause some rubbernecking for those seeking an every day regular.
Enter Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and the Chicago Cubs, who today announced that they have signed DeJesus to a two year contract worth $10 million with a $6.5 million club option for 2013. It’s expected that he’ll be the team’s starting right fielder.
Last season, the Cubs had five different players fill innings in right, including Kosuke Fukudome, whom they traded to the Cleveland Indians just before the trade deadline, along with cash in order to cover some of the salary owed to him. I bring up Fukudome, because he and DeJesus share similar profiles as left handed batters who get on base, but don’t show a whole lot of pop.
The difference is that DeJesus has spent his MLB career in Kansas City and Oakland, two parks that are notorious for low power numbers for lefty hitters, while Fukudome’s slugging stats in Chicago have benefited from Wrigley Field’s standing as one of the best parks in the league for left handed batters. Despite this advantage, DeJesus’ career slugging percentage is twenty points higher than Fukudome’s. And the former Chicago right fielder made $14.5 million last season.
The move fills an immediate hole for the Cubs at a discounted price that will make it easy to shift DeJesus into more of a platoon role down the road if/when another corner outfielder who does better against left handed pitching becomes available.