Before this year’s non-waiver trade deadline, the Rays were in discussions to acquire two different players: David DeJesus from the Chicago Cubs and Mike Morse from the Seattle Mariners. Neither deal ended up happening. However, Andrew Friedman was not going to let that be the end. While the Mariners insisted on keeping Morse, the Cubs dangled DeJesus on trade waivers. The Rays claimed him only to see the Nationals claim him first. But when the Nationals proceeded to put him on waivers once again, the Rays claimed him again and this time were able to land him, agreeing to a deal with the Nationals just moments ago to acquire him for a player to be named later or cash. For Friedman and the Rays front office, it has been a move they have waiting to make for a long time.
The Rays have apparently “admired” DeJesus for a long time. Why? What’s so special about him? Get to know DeJesus a little bit as a player, and it becomes obvious. DeJesus doesn’t have age on his side at 33 years old and doesn’t feature much power or speed. When you have a player with that combination, they tend to get overlooked. But DeJesus has quite a few things in his corner as well. He’s a solid defensive outfielder capable of playing centerfield, and he’s a lefty-swinging hitter with great plate discipline who does a great job at putting the ball in play. DeJesus hasn’t hit lefty pitching at all the last three years, managing a .161/.251/.192 line in 297 plate appearances, but he mashes righties, managing an .814 OPS with not a single season of his career under .749. The Rays have a couple lefty-swinging outfielders in Matt Joyce and Kelly Johnson, but they will find a way to get DeJesus into the lineup against righties and he could be a weapon off the bench when he isn’t starting. And if the Rays like what they see from DeJesus enough, they have a team option on his for $6.5 million next year–his stay in Tampa could be more than just the last-month plus of the season. The perfect opportunity arose for Friedman and the Rays to acquire a player they have long coveted, and today everything came together.