Could Acquiring David DeJesus Set The Rays Up to Trade Matt Joyce?

By Robbie Knopf

When the Rays acquired David DeJesus on Friday, their short-term goal was simple: acquire an above-average hitter and defender capable of bolstering their team down the stretch. However, the acquisition of DeJesus could affect more than the rest of this season. Following the year, DeJesus has a $6.5 million team option with a $1.5 million buyout. 6.5 million dollars is a lot by Rays standards. But there is one scenario where it is easy to envision them excercising DeJesus’ option: if they trade Matt Joyce.

Matt Joyce and David DeJesus have a lot in common. Both are lefty hitters who primarily play the corner outfield and the last three years, neither has hit lefties at all. Joyce has the advantages of being 28 while DeJesus is 33 and having two years of team control left compared to DeJesus’ one, but DeJesus is also a better defender capable of playing centerfield. They do have a few places in which they diverge, but if you have one of them, why would you need the other? For the rest of the season, the Rays have both of them just to give them more depth and more capable hitters coming off the bench. But next season, there is little chance that both DeJesus and Joyce will be in the team. It seems pretty clear that Joyce will be the player the Rays will choose to keep following the season. However, having DeJesus gives them the flexibility to trade Joyce as well.

Matt Joyce made $2,450,000 this season as a first-time arbitration-eligible player. In 2014, he should make in excess of $4 million. That is just $2.5 million less than DeJesus and just $1 million less including DeJesus’ $1.5 million buyout. The only reason for the Rays to keep Joyce over DeJesus is his additional year of team control. With that in mind, the Rays could gage interest in Joyce leading up to the day when they have to decide on DeJesus’ option. In all probability, Joyce will stay and DeJesus will go. But there is a real possibility thaf the DeJesus trade will affect a lot more than just the final month of 2013.