Why trading David DeJesus for two guys you've never heard of makes sense
David DeJesus is gone now, and the instant reaction I hear from Royals fans is some combination of disappointment and anger. DeJesus was a good ballplayer for a lot of Royals teams that didn’t have enough of them, and he came to represent something in the eyes of fans, so now that he’s gone a lot of you are asking two questions:
And what the hell is Royals GM Dayton Moore thinking?
Muscle memory tells us this is a terrible trade, an awful trade, an embarrassing thing to have to do and a symbol of why the Royals will always stink. After all, remember how DeJesus became a regular in Kansas City? The Royals had an opening in center field after trading Carlos Beltran.
In the world of common sense, this is a silly trade for the Royals. DeJesus is the Royals’ best defensive player* and was their best hitter before a thumb injury torpedoed his 2010 season.
* Though, in fairness, that’s a pretty damning statement about this whole pitching-and-DEFENSE movement.
But in the world of baseball, this trade makes perfect sense for the Royals. If you want to argue against it — and this is close enough that reasonable people can disagree — your argument cannot be “DeJesus is good and these two stiffs from Oakland aren’t, so there.”
Because the trade wasn’t just DeJesus for two pitchers the Royals hope are on the come.
The trade looks more like this:
— Kansas City gives up one year of DeJesus at $6 million* and forfeits what could be two supplemental draft picks if he becomes a free agent after next season.
* UPDATE: As is his custom, Bob Dutton brings up a good point. It’s not just DeJesus for $6 million in 2010 the Royals were weighing, but DeJesus for $20M-$25 for the three years after that, which is about what he’ll make.
— Kansas City gets two potential big league starting pitchers under club control for a total of 11 years and saves about $5.5 million in 2010 salary.
The argument against this trade is that the Royals could’ve done better, that they could’ve gotten more in return, but there are folks around Oakland wondering why they had to give up two young and cheap pitchers for an aging outfielder who’s never been anything more than a pretty good player*.
* DeJesus is one of 53 big league outfielders to play more than 500 games since 2007, and he ranks 36th in OPS+. The three immediately ahead of him: Marlon Byrd, Nate McLouth and Cody Ross. My personal sense on DeJesus was always that he looked like a better player than he actually was, in part because he played on such bad teams.
What it really comes down to is this: the Royals are going to be awful in 2011, and maybe they would’ve been ever-so-slightly less awful with DeJesus. But if you believe at all in building for the future — in Mission 2012 — then the Royals had to move DeJesus, who will be 32 with a rising salary when most of the prospects arrive and 34 when they’re likely hitting their stride. This is a different time in baseball, when those ages really mean something.
This is Moore pushing his chips closer to the middle of the table for a real run, instead of the kind of window dressing we’ve become used to, both in his first few years here and before.
This is the kind of trade that can be hard to accept, but is necessary for teams like the Royals.
I’m not telling you to be excited about this trade. I’m just telling you to see that it had to happen, and that holding on to DeJesus made no sense.