The Twins' season is almost officially over. If you've been following this season, you know it's been over for awhile though, and if you're anything like me, you waste inordinate amounts of time playing GM in your head and thinking about ways that your beloved franchise can turn around. There's clearly not a silver bullet to turn the Twins into contenders (aside from healthy seasons from Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, and Denard Span), and given the number of issues they're going to have and pieces they could lose (Michael Cuddyer, Jason Kubel -- I'm looking at you), it stands to reason that they're going to need to be doing some bargain hunting.
One name the Twins should look into, even if one of Cuddyer or Kubel comes back, is a familiar name from his six seasons in Kansas City: David Dejesus. More after the jump.
The Twins have said they'd like to bring one of Cuddyer or Kubel back to the team, but it's far from a sure thing that either will be back, and it's tough to imagine both returning. With Phil Mackey of 1500 ESPN recently tweeting that he's getting the vibe that Cuddyer may now "need some convincing" to return, it's fair to say there will probably be some changes in the outfield next season.
David DeJesus is in the midst of his worst season as a Major Leaguer, so he probably doesn't sound like an ideal candidate for a Twins' offseason target (though he does sound like he'd fit right into the 2011 Twins mold) He's batting .237/.322/.369 -- a far cry from the .289/.360/.427 line he'd posted in his career until being traded to the Athletics last offseason. A few things stand out for DeJesus though:
- Patience. DeJesus is still walking in 9% of his plate appearances, leading to a .322 OBP in a "down season." That walk rate trails only Jim Thome (14.5%), Joe Mauer (9.6%), and Denard Span (9.2%) for 2011 Twins, and the OBP would sadly rank sixth on the club.
- Luck. DeJesus' BABIP this season is .271, but he entered this season with a career mark of .322. He's putting the ball in the air slightly more (specifically popping up to the infield), but both his fly balls and ground balls have below-average BABIPs tacked onto them, suggesting he's had his share of bad luck this season and a rebound in terms of average (and therefore OBP, thanks to a consistent walk-rate) could be on the horizon.
- Defense. DeJesus has long been praised a steady defender, something which the Twins haven't had in the form of Kubel and Cuddyer. If you're a fan of UZR, he's got a +33.4 mark for his career (5.2 UZR/150) including a +1.2 this season (3.1 UZR/150). If not, he's got a solid reputation from scouts that should be enough to at least cement that he's an improvement over the incumbents (Kubel/Cuddyer).
- Price. DeJesus is earning $6M this year, and with the season he's had, he's not likely to even match that amount on a one-year deal. Some club may guarantee him that, but the likely event for DeJesus is a one-year deal with a reduced base salary and some incentives based on performance and playing time.
DeJesus has never been a big home run hitter, so there's not much need to worry about the spacious confines of Target Field limiting his homer total. He may not want to sign in another pitcher-friendly park, hoping that a hitter-friendly atmosphere might help him rebuild his stock and earn a multiyear deal. If that's the case, the Twins could always overpay a little to try to lure him here and still come in under his 2011 base.
You'd have to think the Twins at least stand a chance of luring him in though, due to the familiarity of the AL Central and the fact that a 2011 contender may not want to hand over the job to someone coming off a down year. The Twins, however, can look at DeJesus as a potential upgrade on defense who brings a solid OBP to the table and can fill in is a stopgap in right field while Joe Benson develops more at Triple-A. They present the unique situation of a club that's got some rebuilding to do -- a typical setting for veterans to boost their stock -- but could also contend due to a weak division and the possibility that their stars return to health. DeJesus would know that it's likely the Twins contend, or he gets traded to a contender -- not the worst situation to be in.
Even if Kubel or Cuddyer is re-signed, they could see significant time at DH with DeJesus shoring up an outfield defense that seems likely to include Denard Span (health-permitting... knock on wood) and Ben Revere (organization seems to love him). If both Revere and Benson begin the season in the minors, adding a player of DeJesus' type becomes even more critical.
If the Twins experience another desolate season and DeJesus does indeed rebound, they've got themselves a nice trade chip come July. And, even if he repeats a year like 2011, that's not a bad ROI for the likely price tag that will come along with him. His defense and OBP skills alone will make him a 1.5-2.0 WAR player, which should be well worth the minimal investment he'd require based on 2011's off-year.
Steve Adams also writes for MLBTradeRumors.com, MLB.com Fantasy Baseball, and contributes at 612Sports.net. You can follow him on Twitter: @Adams_Steve