Cubs outfielder David DeJesus was traded to the Nationals yesterday on a waiver claim for a player to be named later. It appears, however, that that claim was merely an attempt to block DeJesus from going somewhere else, because the Nationals have reportedly turned around and put DeJesus right back on waivers.
DeJesus is certainly a useful player, but the Nats believe their outfield is set next season with Bryce Harper, Denard Span and Jayson Werth.
You know whose outfield isn't set? The Mets.
DeJesus will make about $1 million over the balance of this season and then has a very reasonable $6.5 million team option for 2014 (with a miniscule $1.5 million buyout). Would it make sense for the Mets to try and acquire DeJesus with an eye on next season?
In 11 MLB seasons, DeJesus is a .279 hitter with a .354 OBP and .417 slugging percentage. He's not a power bat, reaching double-digit home run totals only three times and posting a career-high of 13 in 2009. He's hitting .250 with a .330 OBP and six home runs during a down season in 2013.
He's played at least 2,000 career innings at all three outfield spots, proving to be an average to be above-average defender. His best position is left field, where he has a 20 UZR/150, an advanced stat measuring a fielder's ability to get to balls hit in his zone over the course of 150 games played. He also has 10 Defensive Runs Saved, an advanced metric that's the primary defensive measure in Wins Above Replacement, in 2,324.2 innings there.
Getting DeJesus now makes sense for the Mets for two key reasons:
(1) They get a look at him in Flushing, and can make an up-close evaluation of whether he could help next season and is worth the option being picked up (similar to what was done with Kelly Shoppach last season).
(2) It improves their current production in left. Mets left fielders have hit .241 with a .335 OBP and .390 SLG (.725 on-base plus slugging percentage). But remove Lucas Duda from that equation (who appears to have little chance to stick at the position given his poor fielding) and those numbers drop: .245 average, .292 OBP, .345 SLG (.637 OPS).
The Mets primary left fielder in recent weeks has been Eric Young Jr., who's posted a .648 OPS this season (combined in New York and Colorado -- though there's not much difference between the two) and has a .667 OPS for his career. He's unlikely to be more than a role player going forward.
The current flavor-of-the-month is 28-year-old Andrew Brown, a journeyman who's suddenly posted a .821 OPS with four home runs -- in all of 86 plate appearances. There's a reason he wasn't given much of a shot in the majors before, and in two prior stints (with the Cardinals and Rockies) totalling 148 plate appearances, Brown had a .679 OPS with five home runs.
Remember this about small sample sizes (both good and bad): Josh Satin had a 1.085 OPS in 66 plate appearances to start his season. He has a .593 OPS in 76 plate appearances since July 8.
It's more likely apparent royalty will turn back into a pumpkin than the other way around in MLB.
DeJesus, if nothing else, gives the Mets protection against that. On the upside? He provides a solid bat, solid defense and a good on-base threat in front of David Wright.
What's the downside?