End of an Era: David DeJesus Traded

Earlier today, the Royals activated David DeJesus from the 60 day disabled list.

And shortly after, they shipped him off to Oakland for pitchers Vin Mazzaro and lefty Justin Marks.

Gage is on the scene already with a dynamite player profile of Mazzaro, so I want to look at this transaction from a wider perspective.  What does it really mean?

First, let’s get into the nuts and bolts of the deal itself. DeJesus, who will make $6 million in 2011 after the Royals picked up his option, was on his way to his best season as a Royal last year before a thumb injury derailed the whole idea. Coming just days before the trade deadline, the injury was devastating both to DeJesus and the organization as a whole, as the Royals could have cashed in on a consistent, balanced veteran outfielder.

Mazzaro, 24, has just 41 appearances in the majors, making his debut on June 2, 2009. He’ll make the league minimum and will be at the back of the Royals rotation. His 4.27 ERA isn’t outstanding, but it’s right around league average, and there’s room for Mazzaro to grow. He’ll be under team control through 2015.

Marks ranked 27th in the A’s system in Baseball America’s 2010 Prospect Handbook where they described him as “a polished lefthander with command of four average pitches.” They also mentioned that he shows “moxie” on the mound, so he may fit right in with John Lamb, who carries a similar reputation. Or not. I don’t know how to quantify moxie yet.

At any rate, Marks pitched as high as Low A last season for Oakland, and while his strikeout rate was nice (9.5 K/9 in 129.1 innings), he also compiled an ERA of 4.87. He didn’t give up a huge amount of homers, nor did he show bad control (3.7 BB/9) so some of that could be bad luck. He’s only 22, so he may figure some things out, probably starting in Low A Kane County in 2011 and moving through to Wilmington later on.

The big picture view is that this deal accomplishes a few things for the Royals. First, it opens up the outfield picture. The Royals have a lot of young players who deserve a look in the outfield, and some, like David Lough or Jordan Parraz, are that much closer to making major league debuts. The Royals are in a spot where they need to find out what they have and if anyone can figure out how to play this game. Mitch Maier probably starts the season as an everyday outfielder next year.

Second, the Royals moved a nice chunk of change off their payroll for the rest of the offseason. While they’re not expected to make a splash in the free agent market, they may turn the savings into more development of the minor league system, increased scouting efforts, or may use it to sign players to extensions. Third, the Royals upgraded a spot in their rotation by adding Mazzaro and releasing Brian Bannister. Mazzaro at 24 has time to develop into something, but we know who Bannister is as a pitcher, and it wasn’t pretty.

The biggest part of this trade is that the Royals get younger. Dayton Moore’s goal of acquiring young players with lots of years of team control left is shaping up. Since July, he’s added Luke May, Sean O’Sullivan, Gregor Blanco and now Mazzaro, all at least replacement level players who have a lot of cheap seasons left in them. He also added players like Tim Collins and Will Smith through these trades, and Marks looks like he has a live enough arm that he should be at worst a back of the rotation guy or maybe a long relief lefty who can get you a strikeout.

I won’t say I really like this trade, though. It seems to me that Dayton may have gotten better value later in the offseason after other teams had courted and come up short in the Carl Crawford sweepstakes. That isn’t to say that DeJesus is all that comparable to Crawford, but he’s certainly a nice consolation prize and would be an excellent fit on a contender as a fourth outfielder or regular starter. I’m interested to learn what other offers may have been out there or forthcoming for DeJesus, though we may never really know for sure.

DeJesus had been a Royal since his debut in September of 2003, the longest tenure on the team. Zack Greinke, who debuted in 2004, now holds the distinction of being the dean of the Royals (for at least one more year…probably).

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Tags: AL Central Baseball David DeJesus Justin Marks Kansas City Royals KC MLB Royals Vin Mazzaro

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