Oakland Acquires DeJesus From Kansas City in Exchange for Mazzaro, Marks
When word came out that the Oakland Athletics had submitted the highest bid in the posting process for Japanese righty Hisashi Iwakuma earlier this week the early speculation was that Oakland would then turn their pitching surplus into a much needed bat. Presumably nobody expected that GM Billy Beane would make a trade so soon after, especially considering Iwakuma is not yet under contract. But, this evening MLB Trade Rumors is reporting that a deal has indeed been completed and it’s not one that most would have predicted. In the deal, Oakland is sending starting pitcher Vin Mazzaro and minor league starter Justin Marks to Kansas City. In exchange, the Royals are parting with longtime outfielder David DeJesus.
Mazzaro, a right-handed pitcher originally from New Jersey, just turned 24 a few weeks ago and is coming off of a season in which he went 6-8 with a 4.27 ERA over 122.1 innings. He made 24 total appearances in 2010, including 18 starts after being recalled in early May. Statistically speaking his peripherals were good, but not spectacular as he posted a 5.8 K/9, 3.7 BB/9, and 1.45 WHIP. The 2005 3rd round draft pick has shown the potential to be a mid-rotation starter but has yet to produce consistently over parts of two MLB seasons, including losing his final six decisions in 2010.
Marks is a 22 year-old left-handed pitcher who was drafted by the A’s in the 3rd round of the 2009 draft. Over 26 professional appearances (25 of them starts) he has seen mixed results as his career minor league line stands at 6-14 with a 5.29 ERA in 129.1 innings. He has shown strong strikeout totals, however, with a 9.5 K/9 to go with a 3.7 BB/9 and 1.41 WHIP. According to Royals GM Dayton Moore he will begin the 2011 season at Class A Wilmington.
DeJesus, who will turn 31 in December, is easily the most familiar name involved in the deal. After being drafted in the 4th round of the 2000 draft, DeJesus has been a fixture in Kansas City’s outfield since making his debut as a September callup in 2003. His 2010 season was cut short by wrist surgery that caused him to miss the final two months. Prior to the injury he was in line to have a career year as he had put up a .318/.384/.443 line over 394 plate appearances. If not for the poor timing of the injury he likely would have been dealt at last year’s trading deadline as many, especially Royals fans, have been expecting his days in Kansas City were soon coming to an end. Over his 8 year career DeJesus is a .289/.360/.427 hitter with 61 HRs, 390 RBI, and an OPS+ of 108. He’s also spent time at all three outfield positions.
At first glance, the deal is a win for Kansas City. There has long been an expectation that DeJesus would be dealt and the Royals have a definitive need for starting pitching depth. Luke Hochevar will certainly return for 2011 but beyond that there were no guarantees within the rotation. Bruce Chen is a free agent and may not be resigned. Kyle Davies and Brian Bannister were both non-tender candidates before Bannister’s release earlier this afternoon. And ace Zack Greinke could be on the trading block. Picking up a starter such as Mazzaro in the deal was key for Kansas City but I have to wonder if they could have gotten more in exchange for DeJesus.
As for Oakland’s side of things, I have to wonder if this deal was the best option. Or, is there another deal in the works that we do not yet know about? Oakland truly needed a bat for their lineup but that bat needed to be one that can hit for some power. They still have that need. On top of things, there is now an even bigger logjam in their outfield. Ryan Sweeney and Rajai Davis are already under contract for 2011. The team just picked up the option for Coco Crisp. Plus they have Conor Jackson and Jack Cust in the fold. Jackson and Cust are both non-tender candidates and the chances that both will be let go just increased. But the question still remains as to where the team will find some power production.
All in all the deal isn’t a poor one from both sides. KC gets a starter with potential they badly need. Mazzaro will also be under team control at least through 2015. Oakland receives the versatile DeJesus who likely strengthens their outfield defense even though he doesn’t provide the power they badly need. He will be a free agent at the end of the 2011 season but could likely be a Type A free agent that could bring the organization a pair of draft picks if they let him go.