The Cubs love the way David DeJesus grinds out at-bats, plays good defense and mentors young players in the clubhouse. They just didn’t value it at $2.5 million for 39 more games.
That’s the net savings from Monday’s trade with the Washington Nationals for a player to be named later. But DeJesus – the first free agent signed by the Theo Epstein administration – made enough of an impression that the Cubs are open to another deal this winter.
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Of course, everyone says that after the trade, in front of the cameras and the microphones. But assuming the Nationals pay the $1.5 million buyout on a $6.5 million club option, DeJesus could again be a good fit on the North Side, this time as an ideal fourth outfielder.
In another twist, FOX Sports reported the Nationals put DeJesus on revocable trade waivers almost immediately after acquiring him, perhaps a sign of buyer’s remorse.
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“We really like David a lot,” Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said before an 11-1 blowout win over the Nationals at Wrigley Field. “I’ve told his agent (that) and I know Theo told David directly. I’m willing to talk to him about bringing him back at some point. I think he’s a good mentor for our young guys. I like his approach at the plate. I hope (Washington) can make a run and he can be part of that.
“But that doesn’t close the door on David with the Cubs in the future, because he represents himself well, he’s a pro and a lot of the things he does we’d like to have in our clubhouse again.”
DeJesus went out for some green juice with his wife on Monday afternoon and noticed he missed a call from Epstein. At the age of 33, DeJesus has ideas about diet, fitness and conditioning. Younger players like Anthony Rizzo gravitated toward that sense of routine.
His wife – @KimDeJesus9 – had spent the hours leading up to the July 31 deadline entertaining fans and reporters with her updates on social media. Through Twitter/Vine/Instagram, she showed Cubs wives dealing with the trade rumors by cooking, drinking and hanging out together. There was a sense of relief that they would make it through August and September.
“My wife was like: ‘You probably got traded,’ just joking around,” DeJesus recalled. “So I was like: ‘All right, let me give (Theo) a call back.’
“It was one of those moments you’re like: ‘Whoa.’ Time stops. (And) my wife is crying because this is where she grew up in Wheaton, Illinois, about 45 minutes from Wrigley Field. It’s a surreal moment.”
DeJesus walked across the field and into a visiting clubhouse he had never seen before. The Nationals are a 60-64 team barely hanging in the wild-card race. But after spending his entire career in rebuilding situations with the Kansas City Royals and Oakland A’s, DeJesus didn’t want to make any promises about next season.
“I love Chicago,” DeJesus said. “I love what they’re building here. But I’m a National now. I want to win here and we’ll go from there.”
Chairman Tom Ricketts made a point to walk over to DeJesus at the cage and chat briefly during batting practice, and he received a nice ovation when he pinch-hit in the eighth inning (he popped out against Jeff Samardzija).
But the Cubs want to get longer looks at other outfielders, even though Brian Bogusevic will be 30 years old next season and Ryan Sweeney will be 29.
DeJesus became a new symbol for this front office when he signed a two-year deal worth $10 million guaranteed just after Thanksgiving 2011. He hit .258 with 15 homers, 77 RBI and a .343 on-base percentage in 900 plate appearances for the Cubs. He could hit leadoff and set the tone in a drama-free clubhouse.
“He’s done everything that’s been expected of him,” Hoyer said. “He’s played different outfield positions. He grinds at-bats. He’s really good against right-handed pitchers. He’s done everything we’ve asked. With that deal, certainly, we got our money’s worth.”
The question will probably become: What’s the right price for 2014?