David DeJesus and Dayton’s Destiny

In the aftermath of the Teahen-for-Getz-and-Fields trade, there is a rumor that the Royals see Fields as an option in left field, and are exploring the trade market for David DeJesus. Fields’ abilities aside, they should be.

Many probably think of DeJesus as a player who is good… for the Royals. He no longer has the range to play CF well, and he doesn’t hit as one usually expects from a left fielder. Maybe that’s why so many people who should know better say things like “DeJesus is a fourth outfielder on a good team.” Those people should be embarrassed.

Here are three-year WAR totals for five outfielders from 2007-2009: 9.2, 8.9, 8.7, 7.4, 6.5. Without looking, who are these players?

In order: Torii Hunter, Johnny Damon, David DeJesus, Andre Ethier, and Jason Bay.

That’s right, over the last three seasons, DeJesus has been practically equal in value to Hunter (whose overrated-ness is seriously underrated) and Damon (just plain overrated); DeJesus has been more valuable than Ethier and Jason “Do People Seriously Think I’m Anywhere Close to as Good as Matt Holliday?” Bay. All five are good, but would DeJesus ever be offered a 5/$90M deal? Would his agent ever compare him to Derek Jeter? Would anyone bother comparing DeJesus to Holliday? Would you take anyone seriously who said that “Ethier is a fourth outfielder on a good team?”

Take Bay, one of the alleged prizes of the free agent crop. I have him as about a 2.5-3 WAR player next season — decent. As for DeJesus, I have him as about a +10 fielder and a +6 hitter — so he’s also right in that 2.5-3 WAR area. Maybe Bay’s closer to 3 and DDJ’s closer to 2.5, but think about this: could you get Jason Bay for 2/$10.7M? Because that’s all DeJesus is going to cost if a team picks up his 2011 option. In other words, teams contending now in and in need of a left fielder would do well to look into DeJesus — he’s likely to be worth at least twice as what he’s paid, and he’s just about as good as the far more expensive options on the open market.

On the Royals’ end, Dayton Moore has spent the last year or two ensuring that he has to be brought up in any “worst GM” conversation. He might finally be doing what he should have done three years ago — trading older assets that are unlikely to be with the Royals (or shouldn’t be) when they have a chance at contending. Whether or not Moore knows what DeJesus and his contract are worth in the young talent the Royals should be pursuing is one (big) question; whether he is able to identify such players is another. It’s potentially a step in the right direction. If Moore can find another team willing to give up appropriate talent, this could be a good move for both teams.

Maybe then smart Royals fans would be a bit more willing to put aside their lust for instant gratification and Trust the Process™.

And maybe, just maybe, Omar Minaya might be all alone at the bottom of the pile.

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Matt Klaassen reads and writes obituaries in the Greater Toronto Area. If you can't get enough of him, follow him on Twitter.

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