Were The Kansas City Royals Wrong in Trading David DeJesus?

In revisiting the trade of David DeJesus, the Royals seemingly came up on the short end of the deal with the Oakland Athletics.

On November 10, 2010, Royals general manager Dayton Moore made the tough decision to trade David DeJesus to the Oakland Athletics for a pair of young arms in Vin Mazzaro and Justin Marks. So far the trade hasn't deemed as fruitful for Royals fans as many had wished.

Many hated to see DeJesus leave as he was the face of the franchise through some of the darker stretches in Royals team history. He always had a smile on his face and said the proper things to the media; he was the epitome of a clubhouse leader.

However, DeJesus was also aging. At 31 years old, it is likely he would have been on the backside of his career by the time Kansas City put a winner on the field. Nonethelesss, it was something that was and still is hard to swallow for Kansas City fans, and now even more so when we see what the two players received in return have done in their brief stints in the Royals organization.

First coming up in 2003, DeJesus spent parts of eight seasons with the Royals and was arguably on his way to a career year last season when he suffered a sprained thumb on July 22nd, ending his season. The injury came at a time when rumors were spreading like wildfire of who DeJesus may be traded to at the deadline last season. At the time he was batting .318/.384/.443 with five home runs and 37 RBI. Those numbers were all above his career averages of .287/.358/.423.

Set to earn $6 million during the 2011 season, Moore ended up pulling the trigger on trading the outfielder, and though we will likely never know what was being offered in July, it seems he went at a time when his value was not at full potential.

DeJesus has struggled with the Athletics this season, hitting only .228/.304/.333 through 33 games thus far. May 4th he came through in the clutch for Oakland, as he had his first career two home run game as the A's defeated Cleveland 4-1. He may not hit .318 this season, but as he gets back into the groove after missing the last two and half months of the 2010 season, he will be a lot closer to his career averages than he sits currently. His character also will be beneficial to a younger outfielder such as Ryan Sweeney and prospects Michael Taylor and Chris Carter should they join the big league team at some point this season.

In return the Royals received Mazzaro, who was 10-17 in parts of the last two seasons with Oakland. A third-round round selection by the A's in 2005, the 6'3" 220 lbs right-hander had a career year between AA and AAA in 2008 when he was 15-6 with a 2.74 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP. However, Mazzaro's career AAA numbers are only a modest 6-5 record with a 3.82 ERA, including being 1-0 with a 4.97 ERA and a putrid 1.74 WHIP in five games at AAA Omaha, before being called up last week to join the rotation in Bruce Chen's absence.

To Mazzaro's benefit, he has improved his strikeout rate over the last year, but his walk ratio has also increased to over four walks per every nine innings pitched. On Tuesday in New York, Mazzaro lasted four innings giving up two runs on six hits. He allowed a home run, and walked four while striking out just two. Based on numbers, it seems Mazzaro at the moment is nothing more than fifth starter material and even that may be pushing it. His future with the Royals will probably be in long relief and occasional spot starter, if he does stick around in the future plans.

The news is even worse when speaking of Justin Marks. The 23 year-old University of Louisville product was a third-round selection of the A's in the 2009 draft and so far has a 5.52 career ERA in 159.2 minor league innings. At Wilmington, Kansas City's Class A Advanced affiliates, he is 1-1 this season with a 6.53 ERA and a 1.48 WHIP. He has already allowed six home runs in just 30.1 innings of work.  Over the last two seasons in A+ ball, he is giving up an average of nearly two home runs per every nine innings pitched. That simply isn't a good statistic for the lefty.

You can shrug your shoulders at this trade and try to spin it all you want, but it stings a little more when you think of the package Kansas City received for Alberto Callaspo last summer.  In sending Callaspo to the Angels, the Royals received Sean O`Sullivan and minor leaguer Will Smith.

While many Royals fans can indeed have fickle attitudes against O`Sullivan, most would agree the combination of O`Sullivan and Smith is a better duo than Mazzaro and Marks. Many of those same fans would agree DeJesus is coveted much more than Callaspo, leading to more head shaking.

Smith is just 2-3 with a 5.60 ERA and a very high 1.87 WHIP so far at AA Northwest Arkansas, but his career minor league numbers show a 29-19 record with a 4.13 ERA and a WHIP sitting at 1.29. He also allows just one home run per every nine innings pitched. As you see, the numbers are much better than Marks, while also being two years younger.

Since coming over from the Angels, O`Sullivan is 5-8 with Kansas City, sporting a 5.33 ERA. After having a bad first outing from the bullpen, his numbers this year are showing a 2-2 record with a 3.79 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP at the age of 23.

We can revisit this subject in future months and years, but as it stands now the Royals either sold DeJesus at the wrong time, or for poor value, no matter his current age. In another 10 years I will hardly remember Alberto Callaspo once being a Kansas City Royal, but DeJesus' time with the Royals will be still be recalled fondly. It's too bad the return from his trade doesn't appear it will match the David had during his time with the Royals.

At least we can take solace in knowing the future is still bright and the system is deep enough that this trade with the Athletics likely won't hold a bright future at bay. 

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