While the majority of attention continues to hinge on the Matt Garza trade rumors, there was a pair of roster news for the Cubs involving their outfield. One was the call up of prospect Junior Lake, who will be taking the place of the injured Brian Bogusevic. The left handed hitting Bogusevic is yet another center fielder health casualty, following the footsteps of David DeJesus and Ryan Sweeney. Jun 14, 2013; New York, NY, USA; Chicago Cubs center fielder David DeJesus (9) lays on the ground after running into the wall chasing a triple by New York Mets center fielder Juan Lagares (not pictured) during the third inning of a game at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Speaking of DeJesus, the Cubs lead off man has resumed baseball activities in Mesa, Arizona and may be on track to participate in Rookie League games. The next step after that could be a rehab stint in the upper minors before potentially coming off of the disabled list in a week or so. That would leave a handful of MLB games that DeJesus can play in ahead of the July 31st trade deadline.
DeJesus’ name was on the list of veteran outfield depth targets for contending teams before he suffered a shoulder sprain in New York against the Mets back in June. The left handed center fielder was hitting .260 with a .318 OBP with 21 RBI in just 59 games played. DeJesus is also above average defensively and would be a solid fourth outfielder on a playoff team, if not in a starting role.
The Cubs hold a team option for 2014 with a $1.5 million buyout. DeJesus would be paid $6.5 million should the Cubs decide to keep him for next season. The decision on whether or not to trade DeJesus this July would hinge on several variables. The first obviously would be if teams that were rumored to be interested prior to his injury are still calling Theo Epstein about his center fielder right now.
Then the Cubs front office would have to weigh the low level prospect return against the void DeJesus’ departure would leave. Related factors would involve evaluations of whether prospects like Lake, Brett Jackson, and Matt Szczur are ready to step in.
Also related to the above are the trade rumors involving fellow outfielders Alfonso Soriano and Nate Schierholtz. Soriano’s name has been mentioned in the same sentence as the Rangers, and the slugger could be included as part of the Garza deal, with Texas supposedly leading the pack for the right handed pitcher’s services. Schierholtz is in a similar boat with DeJesus, being able to provide contending teams with a left handed stick in the outfield that has some pop and can hold his own defensively.
Would Epstein and Jed Hoyer possibly unload their entire starting outfield before September? That remains to be seen, but paying DeJesus $6.5 million for 2014 is probably encouraging a parting of ways with the solid veteran.