David DeJesus’s brief and baffling tenure with the Nationals came to an end today as the Tampa Bay Rays acquired him for a player to be named later or “cash considerations,” the Nationals said in a statement.
Immediately, left-hander reliever Xavier Cedeno will take DeJesus’s roster spot, joining the Nationals in Kansas City from Class AAA Syracuse in order to help a rundown bullpen, which worked 8 2/3 innings over the past two days.
It requires more time to unpack the Nationals’ handling of DeJesus, who ends his time with Washington having never actually played in Washington. He went 0 for 3 with a sacrifice bunt during his four games with the Nationals, all of them at Wrigley Field.
The Nationals acquired DeJesus on Monday in a waiver-wire trade with the Cubs, releasing outfielder Roger Bernadina to make room on their roster. The Nationals controlled Bernadina’s contractual rights for 2014 through arbitration, but they planned on not tendering him a contract.
General Manager Mike Rizzo said DeJesus would improve the Nationals’ left-handed hitting off the bench. The Nationals immediately placed him on waivers, a standard procedural move — many teams, including the Nationals, place their entire rosters on waivers in August in order to open possibilities for trades.
On Thursday, the Rays claimed DeJesus. The Nationals had the option of pulling DeJesus back, working out a trade with the Rays or simply letting him go and forcing the Rays to pick up his remaining salary, which is $2.5 million including a buyout. (DeJesus also has a $6.5 million team option for 2014.)
While Rizzo said he liked DeJesus’s ability and even saw him as a player capable of an everyday job, the Nationals still flipped him to the Rays. Essentially, the Nationals traded six weeks of Bernadina for four days of DeJesus and a prospect or cash.
Why? The Nationals may have been trying to block DeJesus from a National League contender, holding tight to their remote chances to make a playoff run. They may have believed they could get more from the Rays for DeJesus than they had to give the Cubs for him. The Nationals acquired DeJesus from the Cubs merely by assuming the remainder of his salary.
Rizzo likely will address the trade later today, which should provide answers to a process that left many people inside the game confused. DeJesus is surely chief among them.