David DeJesus said he played for too many teams during his first decade in the big leagues where a losing season was basically clinched on Opening Day, so if he had to give up some money during the first year of a contract to gain an additional year in Tampa Bay, so be it.
That’s why DeJesus eagerly accepted the Rays' offer of a two-year deal with an option year that guarantees him $10.5 million.
“I think playing meaningful baseball was high in my priorities, and being back with the team and getting back with those guys, a group that I’m comfortable with was definitely something,” he said. “I just wanted a fair deal and we worked toward it and we got it.”
DeJesus, who joined the Rays in a late-August trade with the Washington Nationals and reached the postseason for the first time in his 11-year career, agreed Sunday to a two-year contract that pays him $4.25 million this season and $5 million in 2015. The Rays hold a $5 million option for 2016 with a $1 million buyout. The deal also included a $250,000 signing bonus.
The Rays held a $6.5 million option for 2014, but the two sides met in the middle.
“David wanted to be here, and we wanted him to be here,” Rays executive vice president of baseball Andrew Friedman said. “He does a lot of things that we value. He fit extremely well for the time he was here. And I think more than anything, us having a chance to be around him and more than anything the way he takes care of himself gave us confidence and conviction that he would be able to remain a good player for the next two years.”
The left-handed hitting DeJesus can play all three outfield spots and can also rotate through whatever platoon the Rays use at designated hitter.
“I would assume as we sit here today that he’ll play against all right-handers,” Friedman said. “It’s not clear what we’ll do against left.”
DeJesus is a career .252 hitter against left-handed pitchers. He batted .161 against lefties in 2013.
DeJesus began his career with the Kansas City Royals. He signed a two-year, $10 million contract with the Chicago Cubs before the 2012 season that contained the $6.5 million option for 2014.
The Cubs traded him in August to the Nationals, and the Nationals traded him to the Rays four days later. DeJesus said it didn’t take him long to realize he wanted to stay with the Rays for longer than the remainder of the season.
“It was just so totally different,” he said. “I’ve been on teams where everything is so tense. You don’t really have that relaxed atmosphere. It was such a welcoming atmosphere. When I walked in the first day I felt like I’d been there two or three months.”
Friedman said he’s had talks with representatives of some of the nine Rays who became free agents Monday but wouldn’t get into specifics, saying it’s too early in the offseason to forecast what those talks will produce.