Sep 22, 2013; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays left fielder David DeJesus (7) high fives third base coach Tom Foley (6) as he runs around the bases after he hit a solo home run against the Baltimore Orioles during the first inning at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Breaking News: Rays Exercise Option on David DeJesus, Discussing Extension

We heard for years before the Rays acquired David DeJesus that they were enamored with him as a player. Then in August, the perfect series of events happened for him to don their uniform and he played very well for the last month of the season, managing a .260/.328/.413 line (108 OPS+) as he emerged as their starting left fielder against right-handed pitching and even played some centerfield when Desmond Jennings was out. In a sense, it was a dream come true–but would it be fleeting? DeJesus had a $6.5 million option following the season, and it was going to be a tough call for the Rays deciding whether to pick it up. The Rays liked DeJesus, but that is a pretty hefty price tag for a platoon player, especially by Rays standards. At the end of the day, though, everything DeJesus brought their team outweighed the negatives and they could not imagine letting him go. According to Marc Topkin, the Rays exercised DeJesus’ team option, and pending a trade, he will be in a Rays uniform once again next season. Moreover, the Rays are in talks with DeJesus about an extension that would keep him in Tampa Bay even longer.

The decision to pick up DeJesus’ option becomes a little easier when you realize that his buyout was worth $1.5 million–the Rays were going to be on the hook for that no matter what. It was a question of $5 million, not $6.5, and especially if the Rays were thinking about declining the option and trying to re-sign him for less, the chances of them getting him for less than $5 million were very small. DeJesus is not making peanuts by Rays standards, but they do have to like what he brings their team at what would be considered a low value for another team. DeJesus is an obvious example of an undervalued player because he doesn’t have a flashy game. He doesn’t hit for power, he doesn’t hit for so high of an average, and he doesn’t even steal bases. However, he basically does everything else. He plays strong defense in the outfield corners and is good enough in centerfield as well. He makes a lot of contact, including a fair amount of doubles to the gaps, and he also has strong plate discipline, making him a pesky hitter and a good one in the long run. He may not steal bases, but he is a very good baserunner otherwise, consistently taking the extra base. And that goes without saying that DeJesus is regarded as an excellent clubhouse presence.

With DeJesus in the fold, the Rays at least have something to work with in an offseason in which the Rays have a lot of decisions ahead of them. DeJesus isn’t a reclamation project like the Rays so often go for–he is far from a perfect player, but they can trust him to start the bulk of their games in left field and do a good job. In DeJesus, the Rays believe they have the perfect combination of reliability and that under-the-radar quality that DeJesus just can’t seem to shake, and that made him a great candidate to be brought back and potentially extended. For a Rays team that so often has to let players they like depart, it was great to see the circumstances arose for DeJesus to not just arrive in Tampa Bay but possibly stay for a while.

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  • Baltar

    This is good news. I breathed a big sigh of relief when I saw this headline. Now the Rays are set in the starting outfield, allowing Zobrist to play 2B almost exclusively.
    I hope this is an indication that the Rays are putting at least a little of that estimated $25M increase in TV revenue into the player budget.

  • phattitudes

    Wow, that’s a bit of a shock. Didn’t think they had the money. Love getting him back. Besides his skill set; he is a great veteran presence and very positive. He is definitely an asset to the team.

    This does however make you wonder what they do with Joyce. Do they release him, keep him, or do a sign and trade? I suspect he will not be on the team next year. Left handed batters always seem to draw interest; so a sign and trade would be nice. Hate to give him away for nothing, but at a minimum it would recoup some of the DeJesus dollars.

    Now what magic do they have up their sleeve to fill the black hole at 1st Base? Can they grab a free agent with the skill set of a Loney or Morneau? Do they acquire one via the trade market or do the go down the road of a reclamation project? Please let it not be another reclamation project.

    • Ryan

      Can’t see the Rays trading Joyce unless they get a good return for him. He still provides value as a DH, so I don’t think the Rays move a useful piece unless they get a return that suits their liking. Just not their MO.

      • Robbie_Knopf

        That’s exactly my point in the other article I just wrote about DeJesus. No need to trade him,but now they don’t have to worry about depth if they get a good offer.

        • Ryan