The Cubs have signed right fielder David DeJesus to a 2-year contract with a third year club option. It’s reportedly a 2-year deal for $10 million. Not sure how much the club option year is worth. Before I move on, how would you even Quadify this guy’s name? Would it be Davey? DeJey? Jesusy?
DeJesus played RF for 116 games last season and played 8 games in CF. He’s a damn good fielder so it’s not surprising the Cubs have signed him. They need to improve the defense and DeJesus does just that. While his Total Zone last year was -1, defensive metrics aren’t exactly reliable over just one season. The previous three years his Total Zone was 9, 15 and 13. His UZR the last 3 years has been 16, 2.5 and 7.5. His DRS last year was 10. The guy can field.
The Cubs have also sucked at running the bases. DeJesus has been worth 16 runs in his career on the bases according to UBR. He was worth 2.7 last year. According to Baseball Prospectus’ baserunning metric, EQBRR, he was worth 1.3 in 2011.
It’s obvious the Cubs have made their first attempt to improve both their defense and baserunning and they’ve done a fine job at that. That’s not all the value a player provides and hitting remains the most important part.
His wOBA last year was only .309, but that was a 95 wRC+. He was only a little below average. The three years prior to that his wOBA was .355, .337 and .363. Those are pretty good for a guy who fields well and runs well.
Bill James projects a .324 wOBA. CAIRO projects a .320 wOBA. Oliver projects a .326 wOBA. Keep in mind that these are all projections for the American League and in a pitcher’s park that Oakland is. We can expect when updated projections come there will be a bump. Basically, he’s expected to be above average at the plate.
Let’s use a .330 wOBA for the Cubs. CAIRO has an average defensive projection for him at +3 runs in RF in 545 innings. Since he’ll be the every day guy we can bump that up to over 1000 and we’ll call it +6. We’ll go with +2 on the bases. And we’ll use a $4.8 million value per win and 550 plate appearances.
Over two years, DeJesus is worth $15.2 million and he’s being paid $10 million. The Cubs essentially saved enough money to buy one more win on the free agent market. I included 2014 since there’s a club option. If he’s worth only .8 WAR by that time that option will be declined. If he outperforms the projections in 2012 and 2013 he’ll probably be back depending on who they have available to play and how much the option is worth.
DeJesus doesn’t make the Cubs contenders by any means. It’s not a sexy move. It’s probably a signing that will even anger some or many Cubs fans, but don’t pay attention to them. This is a good contract.
I’d also say it makes it more likely now than ever before that Alfonso Soriano won’t be a Cub when next season begins. I still think it’s likely that Brett Jackson begins the year in CF. I had thought Byrd would move to RF, but I’ve got money on him being the LF next year.