As Jordan mentioned earlier this week, the Cubs front office has been close to the vest regarding potential roster moves this off season. Much of the start of the Cubs offseason for the newly built front office surrounded the hiring of a manager, which contrary to player rumors so far, had been very public, as evidenced by the practice run press conferences Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer used as part of the interview process.
The latest rumors that have surfaced over the last few days has been whether or not the Cubs are seriously pursuing free agent first basemen Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder. But as Luke pointed out yesterday, there is room to add a player to the outfield rotation even if the Cubs hang onto Alfonso Soriano and Marlon Byrd. And as if right on cue, news broke earlier this afternoon that Epstein and Hoyer had made their first free agent signing as leaders of the Cubs front office.
David DeJesus is a name that was mentioned almost as a post script early on in the off season, but not much more news transpired on the idea after that. In another sign of how close to the vest this front office may operate on going forward, there had not even been a whisper about this within the last 24 hours.
So who is DeJesus? He is not a Pujols or Fielder type power hitting super star that can be considered a savior. What Would DeJesus Do? He had a down year in 2011 with the Oakland A’s, but even casual baseball fans may recall that he had several solid years with the Kansas City Royals. In short, he is a well rounded player offensively that has historically shown that he can be what the last front office regime had thought the recently departed Kosuke Fukudome would provide: hitting for average and the ability to get base, having a little pop in the bat to boot, and a lefty bat. DeJesus is also a solid defender and can play all three outfield spots if necessary.
Epstein and Hoyer appear to have him penciled in for right field in 2012, and Hoyer was quoted as saying that DeJesus was not signed to be a platoon player. His spot in the line up figures to be determined in Spring Training, but DeJesus can be considered for the lead off role, allowing the Cubs to bump Starlin Castro into the more comfortable two hitter slot.
This is bad news for Tyler Colvin, as he again appears to be blocked from a shot at a starting job unless the Cubs move Soriano or Byrd. The sophomore outfielder struggled to progress from a solid rookie season and it did not help that he did not receive consistent playing time on a sinking team in late 2011.
For you glass half empty Cubs fans, the worst that could happen regarding this signing is that DeJesus ends up being another Fukudome. But at least DeJesus is only tied up for two years at an average annual salary of $5 million a year, a bargain compared to what Jim Hendry had signed Fukudome to. DeJesus is far from being considered Messiah-esque for the Cubs, but the newest Cub’s career numbers should leave North Side fans unconcerned about a Fukudome repeat.