MLB Trade Rumors: Could Cleveland Indians Deal for David DeJesus?

Well, we’re 86 games into the 2011 season, and the Cleveland Indians are still in first place. With just three weeks left before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, they’re likely to make an upgrade or two, even if they can’t afford to make a blockbuster deal.

With Shin-Soo Choo out until the end of August—if not longer—a natural place for the Indians to upgrade is right field. And GM Chris Antonetti told Anthony Castrovince that he’s looking for a bat:

“We’re open in any way we can to improve the team, whatever that might be,” Antonetti said. “Especially with Choo suffering the injury that he suffered, we’ll probably focus most of our efforts on improving our offense and getting a little more consistency there.”

Cleveland probably won’t spare the prospects to acquire a premium player or the cash to bring in a big name in a salary dump, but that doesn’t mean they won’t look to upgrade at all. One buy-low option who could be had for an affordable price is Oakland Athletics right fielder David DeJesus.

DeJesus, 31, was in the midst of a career year in 2010—he hit .318/.384/.443 (124 wRC+) with 2.6 WAR in 91 games—and was one of the hottest names on the trade market before he tore a tendon in his thumb and missed the last two-and-a-half months of the season.

The Royals traded DeJesus to Oakland this winter, and his comeback hasn’t exactly gone according to plan. He’s hitting a mere .221/.313/.340 (86 wRC+) with 0.2 WAR. Even his defense is down—his UZR/150 has slipped from 4.4 last year to -5.2 in 2011.

Luckily, DeJesus’ peripheral numbers have actually shown some improvement. His walk rate is up from 8.6% to 9.3%, and his Power Factor has increased from .393 to .536.

The problem is bad luck: DeJesus’ BABIP is down to .246, a full 76 points below his pre-season .322 career hit rate. Plug in the .322 figure and his triple-slash leaps up to .284/.375/.435, good for a 130 xOPS+. Even at his .310 year-adjusted BABIP—a reflection of his slightly worse batted-ball profile—he’s still got a 118 xOPS+, making him a well above-average hitter.

Either way, that would be a massive upgrade over Travis Buck (88 OPS+), Shelley Duncan (88 OPS+), and Austin Kearns (72 OPS+), who make up the Tribe’s current right field platoon. And when Choo comes back, he’d make a more-than-capable backup for Grady Sizemore, Michael Brantley, and Travis Hafner.

The Baseball Musings Lineup Analysis tool has Wednesday’s Indians lineup at 4.758 runs per game. Throw DeJesus in there with his career BABIP-adjusted numbers and that goes up to 4.982. That’s an upgrade of roughly 3.6 WAR over 162 games—easily more than a full win if he were to play every game between now and Choo’s return.

Oakland may well realize that luck is part of the problem, but it doesn’t matter. The A’s are all but out of the playoff race—they’re eight games back in the AL West and looking up at even the Seattle Mariners in the division—and with DeJesus’ contract expiring at the end of the season they have no reason not to trade him now.

The Indians could afford DeJesus, both in terms of trading for him and paying him. There are many far flashier right fielders available on the trade market this year—Andre Ethier, Carlos Beltran, Ryan Ludwick, and Kosuke Fukudome, just to name a few—and most contenders aren’t going to spring for a .221 hitter with a recent history of health problems. The A’s won’t give him away for nothing, but they can’t ask for too much since there isn’t much market demand for DeJesus.

He wouldn’t be too expensive in terms of payroll, either. DeJesus is owed less than $3 million for the rest of the season, and that would fall closer to $2 million as the deadline approaches. That ain’t nothing for a small-market team, but if the Dolans are willing to spend in support of a playoff spot, it’s a relatively modest payroll bump that could make a huge difference.

If the Indians want to trade for a new right fielder, it will be hard for them to get more bang for their buck than DeJesus. Or, they could just call up Jerad Head.

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  • http://here Umm No

    David DeJesus? We need a power bat, not a slap the ball the other way hitter. We need legitimate power. Go get Andre Ethier. He would solidify our lineup and allow us to trade Sizemore… who stinks now. I know we’d never trade the golden boy and this is a dream, but we’d be a better baseball team with Brantley in CF.

    As for DeJesus… quit playing the cheapskate game of trying to drag veterans off the scrap pile and squeeze another mediocre year out of them… a la Austin Kearns. We need real help.

    • Hayden

      howa bout an outfeild of Brantly , Dejesus , Either , possibly make Choo DH , Put Hafner at first? , Trade Grady and Laporta for A top ace posibly Tim Hudson we all now ho much the Braves want a Center Feilder

      • Hayden

        how*

  • BuccoMike

    Marlon Byrd is the perfect fit for the Tribe.

  • Kanas City Oracle

    DeJesus is a good player, who likely will have some better luck. it would be a good move for the Indians to get him.

  • Hayden

    Ive been following Dejesus all his carrer and i got very upset when he ws traded to oakland but if the tribe picked him up , it would be an excallent deal , the indians are now fav team in the central ever since the royals traded him , i think dejesus would be a great fit for the tribe, he would be play very competive in the same division as his old team , i think this would be like when matt holliday went to st. louis a few years ago . if u put DJ in a real ballpark not ”cough” ”cough” shitty oakland colliseum dj will be a huge threat , get this guy and lock him up long term. GO TRIBE , WORLD SERIES 2011

  • Jake

    They should seriously take a look at Dejesus, the completely destroys the AL central, not to mention the nightmares he causes for cleveland pitching. I could care less about a power bat, what would you rather have, a guy who belts out meaningless solo homeruns or a guy who has had a knack for timely hitting and clutch play. His fielding is great and do yourself a favor and look at his career numbers against the AL central, i.e. 177 RBIs in 397 career games against the central (do the math). Go get him!

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