What Does The Return Of David DeJesus Mean For Matt Joyce?
The Rays had to midnight last night to decide whether to pick up the 2014 option on outfielder David DeJesus worth $6.5M or let him test the free agent waters and pay him a $1.5M buyout. The Rays agreed to pick up the option and then this morning it was reported by the Tampa Bay Times Marc Topkin (Twitter) that the Rays and DeJesus had agreed on a 2-year contract extension (2014-2015) which includes a club option for 2016.
It was obvious that DeJesus wanted to return. After the Rays fell to the Boston Red Sox in the American League Division Series DeJesus said, “this is what you play the game fora and I like it. I like it and I want to try it again.”
He also said that he wants to “win a World Series with these guys because they were so welcoming from day one. I’m honored to be a Ray.”
So excited to be a Ray again!!!
— David DeJesus (@David_DeJesus3) November 4, 2013
At this point in time it is highly unlikely the Rays signed DeJesus to an extension to trade this winter but does his signing put Matt Joyce on the trading block?
Both DeJesus and Joyce struggle against left handed pitching but each player brings different skills to the table. DeJesus provides better base running, defense, and is the perfect leadoff hitter versus right handed pitching while Joyce supplies more power and can hit in the middle of the order. It is not unreasonable for both DeJesus and Joyce to find their way into the lineup against right handed pitching as DeJesus can play any of the outfield spots while Joyce can play the outfield or DH.
The Rays are known as a budget conscious organization but trading Joyce isn’t required to free up money. According to Major League Trade Rumors estimates he is set to earn $3.7M in his 2nd year of arbitration which is not a figure that is going to put a stranglehold on the Rays budget.
The reason the Rays could find themselves trading Matt Joyce is because they would be trading a young (29 year old) productive player who would be under team control for the next two seasons at a reasonable price (~$9.5M). If the Rays do not view Joyce as an extension candidate then the organization would be best served by floating him out on the open market and see what teams are willing to give up for him. .
For the aforementioned reasons the Rays should have been shopping Joyce regardless but the signing of DeJesus gives the Rays the added flexibility to trade Joyce should the right offer come along.