Understanding David DeJesus’ Extension From All Sides

By Robbie Knopf

We heard that the Rays had agreed to a two-year extension with David DeJesus with an option for a third year. It was a very interesting deal, but we were going to have to wait for numerical values for each of the year to really understand why both the Rays and DeJesus agreed to it. Now we have them and it all makes perfect sense. DeJesus will make $10.5 million the next two years, with $250,000 coming in the form of a signing bonus. He is set to make $4.25 million in 2014 and $5 million in 2015 before the Rays have a $5 million option on him for 2016 with a $1 million buyout. DeJesus’ option had been worth $6.25 million, but the Rays will instead pay him $1.75 million less counting the bonus in exchange for an additional year under contract and at least a buyout in 2016. Why would DeJesus agree to it? The reasoning is the same as the Rays’ extensions with their rookies: he may have been able to make more later, but agreeing to this extension provides him with financial security and still a substantial amount of money.

What would have happened to DeJesus had he hit the open market? We don’t know for sure. He has been playing well, but at the same time, he is 34 years old and teams could be wary of giving him a multi-year deal. Had DeJesus not agreed with the Rays’ demands, he may have been able to get around what his option was worth, $6.25 million, but maybe the second year never gets offered, leaving DeJesus in trouble should he struggle in 2014. It seems strange for DeJesus to be willing to subtract nearly $2 million from his option for this year, but the guaranteed contract for next season protects him in the case of injury or poor performance. As an aging player, DeJesus thought it wise to take precautions. The Rays were happy to comply.

What really makes this deal stand out for the Rays is looking at it in light of DeJesus’ previous contract. Following a rough year with the Oakland A’s in 2011, DeJesus agreed to a two-year, $10 million deal with the Cubs with an option for a third year. Despite rebounding from his disappointing 2011 walk year with two good seasons, the Rays were able to get him for almost the exact same price. The Rays are getting DeJesus for the lowest possible amount despite the fact that they believe he still has good years ahead.

Is this deal a risk worth taking for the Rays? Once again, David DeJesus is 34 years old and you never know when his decline will begin. However, the Rays know that DeJesus has been a relatively consistent player for a long time now. The Rays did not get DeJesus of the scrapheap–they got him amid his second straight good year and fifth in his last six. He is certainly no star and he has his limitations against left-handed pitching, but the Rays are confident he can be a contributor to their team the next two years. DeJesus’ contract is not a steal, but getting him at the lower end of his market value with an option for a third year combines the type of team-friendly deal the Rays have made in the past with the abilities of a solid player the Rays believe they can rely on. This may not be the best deal Andrew Friedman has ever made, but it was a deal worth making.