Since coming to the Rays from the Nationals, DeJesus has been a very valuable addition. He has gotten key hits to either win or put the team ahead, and is a big reason why Tampa Bay is on a six-game win streak as they continue their push for the AL Wild Card and the playoffs.
After being in the big leagues for 10 years, he is enjoying his first taste of a playoff run and has quickly become a favorite in the clubhouse. His teammates like him and the Tampa Bay fans love his low-key, always smiling demeanor and his all-out style of play.
Make no mistake about it — at 33 years of age, DeJesus is a quality MLB player with a great deal to offer the Rays in their race to the postseason. He is a lifetime .279 hitter with some pop in his bat, but is more of a gap-to-gap hitter with some speed. He can play all three outfield position and fits very well into manager Joe Maddon‘s mold of the versatile player.
The story on how DeJesus got to Tampa Bay in the first place is almost as interesting as watching him play for the Rays. On August 19 while on the road to face the Chicago Cubs, the Nationals acquired the outfielder in a late-season move to bolster their bench and provide proven depth for an improbable playoff push.
The now former Cub simply walked from one locker room to the other and the deal was done. Nationals manager Davey Johnson liked the move because he thought that DeJesus was “a professional hitter with plenty of hits left in his bat.”
Well, Tampa Bay was shopping for another bat that could help them in their push to the playoffs, and Nationals GM Mike Rizzo was aware that the Rays scouts had been following DeJesus along with his scouts as a possible late-season addition.
Always looking for pitching to add to the organization, Rizzo thought that a deal could be done with the Rays. While he liked having the veteran DeJesus as a bench player, the idea of getting one of those Tampa Bay arms was too tempting for the Nationals GM to pass up. So after only four days with Washington, the outfielder was on the move again on August 23.
Tampa Bay got DeJesus and the Nationals got 22-year-old, 6-foot-7 power pitcher Matthew Spann, who is a decent young arm from an organization that just seems to grow power arms. Both sides were happy, and that is the hallmark of a good trade.
DeJesus should continue to help the Rays in their quest to hold on to the top AL Wild Card spot. He is going to be a free agent after the season; that said, he could be an affordable offseason addition and a good fit for the Rays. But for now, his job is make sure the Rays are in the playoffs.