Bargain DeJesus signing a good start for Epstein in Chicago

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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.

Jim Hickey steps down as Cubs’ pitching coach

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The Cubs announced on Tuesday that Jim Hickey has stepped down as the pitching coach due to personal reasons. The club will begin a search for a replacement.

Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said in a statement, “Jim Hickey notified us yesterday of his decision to step down as pitching coach and leave the organization for personal reasons. We thank Jim for his season with the Cubs and his positive impact on our pitchers. Jim has our full support and we all wish him well.”

Hickey, 57, spent over a decade as a coach in the Rays organization before joining the Cubs for the past season, reuniting with Joe Maddon. The Cubs’ starting staff ranked 10th among all 30 teams with a 3.84 ERA and the bullpen posted an NL-best 3.35 ERA.