This isn’t the first time Theo Epstein tried to land David DeJesus.
As Boston’s general manager, Epstein attempted to pick up DeJesus from the Royals both before the 2010 trade deadline and again after the season. Epstein missed out both times, though, and DeJesus was instead dealt to Oakland, where he turned in his most disappointing season to date as the A’s primary right fielder.
Of course, Epstein didn’t let that series of events get him down. In fact, he took advantage, signing DeJesus to a two-year, $10 million contract in his new role as Cubs president. It’s a relative pittance compared to what DeJesus would have received had he instead been a free agent last winter.
And DeJesus doesn’t really seem like much worse of a bet now than he was then. He’s a year older, but at 32, he still qualifies as something of a spring chicken in the Cubs outfield. He should be the best of that bunch, too. DeJesus has a 107 OPS+ over the last three season, compared to 103 for Marlon Byrd and 101 for Alfonso Soriano.
The DeJesus signing does put a temporary roadblock in front of the Cubs’ top prospect, Brett Jackson, but it was already clear that the team doesn’t think he’s quite ready just yet. If Jackson starts demolishing Triple-A pitching, then Byrd could well be moved in June or July. Alternatively, the Cubs can just go ahead and bench or even release Soriano if he doesn’t perform better this year.
DeJesus isn’t the difference maker that Cubs fans are hoping for, but he should have been valued as an $8 million-per-year player and Epstein just bagged him for $5 million. Considering that Cubs are probably more than a Pujols away from winning the NL Central anyway, it’s exactly the kind of move Epstein was smart to start his tenure with.
Cody Bellinger helped the Dodgers to their first lead on Friday night, going deep for his 39th home run of the season and setting a new National League rookie home run record in the process. With two on and two out in the third inning, the Dodgers’ slugger launched a 2-1 pitch from the Giants’ Jeff Samardzija, skimming the right field fence to give the team a three-run cushion:
The three-run bomb was Bellinger’s sixth of the season. In what is undoubtedly a Rookie of the Year award-worthy campaign, he’s logged 21 solo shots, 11 two-run blasts and a single grand slam. His historic home run topped former NL rookie leaders Frank Robinson and Wally Berger, at 38 homers apiece.
The Dodgers need to stay on top of the Giants to clinch the NL West or, barring that, have the Marlins pull off a win over the Diamondbacks. They currently lead the Giants 4-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Marlins, meanwhile, are staying just ahead of the D-backs with a 9-7 lead in the top of the sixth.
A report from Barry Jackson and Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reveals that prospective Marlins’ owners Derek Jeter and Bruce Sherman have already initiated several key firings within the organization. While the sale of the team is still pending final approval next month, Jeter reportedly pushed club president David Samson to remove four special assistants this week: Andre Dawson, Tony Perez, Jack McKeon and Jeff Conine.
Hall of Fame infielder Dawson, outfielder Perez and Marlins’ legend Conine served as special assistants to the president. McKeon, who served as team manager from 2003-2005 (and briefly in 2011), was terminated from a 12-year post as special assistant to owner Jeffrey Loria.
The move didn’t come as a big surprise to Dawson and McKeon, Jackson and Spencer noted. It’s part and parcel of dealing with new ownership. But it was disappointing news nonetheless, especially as the long-tenured McKeon might lose an opportunity to return next September to manage one game and cement his status as the oldest manager in MLB history.
Should the Marlins’ sale go through in October as expected, this figures to be the beginning of several cuts. Per Jackson and Spencer:
Jeter also is expected to fire some people on the baseball side of the operation, though it’s believed president/baseball operations Michael Hill will be retained, at least indefinitely if not permanently.
Any replacements for those already released from the team have yet to be announced.