David DeJesus will improve Cubs in several areas
By Gordon Wittenmyer firstname.lastname@example.org November 30, 2011 9:48PM
David DeJesus struggled for much of last season with the A’s before finishing strong the final two months, mostly in a platoon role. | Chris Carlson~AP
Updated: January 3, 2012 9:09AM
It probably won’t be their biggest move of the offseason, but the first one speaks volumes about how president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer plan to reconstruct the Cubs.
It certainly says more than the breathless speculation about Prince Fielder or Albert Pujols.
The two-year, $10 million deal the Cubs gave right fielder David DeJesus on Wednesday immediately provides them an upgrade defensively, a potential top-of-the-order hitter and an every-day left-handed bat.
‘‘We feel David’s a player that does a lot of things real well,’’ Hoyer said. ‘‘He hits right-handed pitching very well; he’s a strong defender in right field who runs the bases well. He doesn’t strike out. All those are areas we’re looking to improve on the club.’’
DeJesus, who turns 32 on Dec. 20, also comes with a reasonable, relatively short-term contract that pays him $4.25 million each of the next two years, with a $6.5 million option for 2014 ($1.5 million buyout).
Before suffering a season-ending thumb injury July 22, 2010, crashing into a wall at Yankee Stadium, DeJesus had a career .360 on-base percentage with the Kansas City Royals. It was .394 that year when he led off an inning.
After being traded to the Oakland Athletics last winter, he struggled for much of the season before finishing strong the final two months, primarily in a platoon role.
The thumb injury is one of the reasons the Cubs got a player potentially on the rise again for less than his annual salary last year
($6 million). It also suggests the kind of value signing Epstein and Hoyer talked about when they were hired last month, assuming their medical evaluations are accurate and DeJesus is fully recovered.
Hoyer said he expects DeJesus to be an every-day player.
‘‘There is value to be found in free agency,’’ Hoyer said a few weeks ago at his introductory news conference. ‘‘I think you have to look very hard for it sometimes. I just think relying on it as the essence of building a baseball team not only is a bad idea, but it makes sure you can’t have sustained success.’’
The Cubs’ interest in DeJesus is not new. They were one of several teams in recent years that talked to the Royals about acquiring him.
Despite reports suggesting the Cubs are among teams pursuing Fielder and Pujols — Hoyer declined comment as a matter of policy — their primary need is pitching.
Sources say another player who could be a value signing is left-hander Chris Capuano. After significant struggles in his final two seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers, the former 18-game winner signed with the New York Mets last year and went 11-12 with a 4.52 ERA in 31 starts.
‘‘We know we have to add pitching depth, and that’s something we’re focused on,’’ Hoyer said. ‘‘We’re having a ton of conversations with agents and teams. Hopefully, we can move that ball forward [at the winter meetings next week] in Dallas.’’