Late Wednesday afternoon, the Royals traded the longest-tenured player on last season's roster, an effective everyday player in David DeJesus, to the Oakland Athletics. The Royals received a starter for the immediate future in Vin Mazarro and a potential big-league pitcher in Justin Marks, but ultimately, the move as a whole is not a smooth fit for either team.
To draw a comparison, over the summer, the Royals traded Alberto Callaspo for a similar return from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim - starter Sean O'Sullivan, who immediately slid into a rotation role with the big-league, and Will Smith, who was sent to High-A Wilmington. Whereas Callaspo was known for his patience at the plate and tendency to avoid strikeouts, there isn't much else to rave about in his game, and he went on to struggle with the Angels.
DeJesus, on the other hand, has played all three outfield positions since debuting in 2003 and excelled as one of the most overlooked hitters in baseball. Not only has DeJesus showcased consistent patience at the plate, compiling a career-high .384 on-base percentage in 2010, he is also widely regarded as one of the better defenders to roam the outfield by advanced stats and traditional stats alike. You may recall that in 2009, the Royals' PR department led a late-season charge to garner consideration for a Gold Glove for DeJesus. His active 241-game errorless streak is also a career highlight.
As in any deal, both teams must also consider the salaries involved.
Oakland, a very cost-conscious squad, takes on DeJesus' $6 million option for 2011. While they have some talent, they don't figure to seriously challenge the defending American League Champion Texas Rangers for superiority in the AL West. While DeJesus has some pop in his bat, Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum is known as a park that heavily favors pitchers, and the A's are starved for power bats after finishing 13th out of the 14 American League teams in home runs and 12th in slugging percentage in 2010.
In Kansas City, the Royals addressed the need for a starting pitcher by acquiring Mazarro, but at the cost of creating something of a hole in right field. Mitch Maier figures to be an interim solution, though his skill set is the type upon which the Royals should be looking for avenues to improve.They could go with AAA Omaha's David Lough, who has drawn many comparisons to DeJesus in his overall game, but Lough has no major-league experience. Another option is to hit the free agent market, which mitigates the payroll flexibility gained by sending DeJesus to Oakland.
With very few hitters available of DeJesus' caliber or better on the market, Wednesday's move raises more questions than it brings answers. It's still only November, and Royals general manager Dayton Moore has been known to be highly active in the offseason, so it will surely be interesting to follow the hot stove as it plays out.