12:24 p.m. EST Update: DeJesus told the Tampa Bay Times’ Marc Topkin that he has come to terms on a two-year pact with the Rays that includes an option for 2016.
The Rays will hang on David DeJesus, according to Mark Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, exercising his $6.5 million option rather than giving him a $1.5 million buyout.
Topkin also hears that the two sides are discussing a multiyear deal.
It’s a mildly surprising move from the Rays. DeJesus is worth the money, especially since the buyout essentially makes it a $5 million decision, but it takes away a great deal of the team’s flexibility, both financially and from a roster standpoint. Any talk of moving Desmond Jennings back to left field would now seem to be dead. DeJesus will become the primary left fielder against right-handers, which makes Matt Joyce mostly a DH. Ben Zobrist will play second against righties and maybe move back to the outfield against some lefties.
DeJesus, who turns 34 in December, hit .260/.328/.413 in 104 at-bats for the Rays and .251/.327/.402 in 391 at-bats overall last season. He’ll likely be viewed strictly as a platoon player by the Rays after hitting .174, .149 and .161 against lefties the last three years.
If a multiyear deal gets done, $10 million for two years would be a reasonable guess.
I hope you don’t have any plans tonight at around 10PM Eastern time, because that’s when we get a pitching matchup for the ages as Max Scherzer will take on Clayton Kershaw at Dodger Stadium. When they meet tonight it will be the first time two pitchers with three or more Cy Young Awards have matched up since 2006. That year, and in 2005 and 2000, Roger Clemens faced Greg Maddux. In 2001 Clemens faced Pedro Martinez.
Kershaw won his hardware in 2011, 2013 and 2014, with an MVP award in 2014 to boot. Scherzer collected trophies in 2013, 2016 and 2017. Each has started the 2018 season in Cy Young form. Kershaw is 1-2, but that record is due to poor run support. He has a 1.73 ERA and has struck out 31 batters and has walked only three in 26 innings. Scherzer is 3-1 with a 1.33 ERA and a whopping 38 strikeouts to only 4 walks in 27 innings.
This will be the third time that Kershaw and Scherzer faced each other if you include the playoffs. The first meeting was a decade ago when both were rookies. They most recently faced off in Game 1 of the 2016 NLDS, way back when Scherzer only had one Cy Young Award to his credit. Kershaw beat Scherzer in that playoff game and the Dodgers beat Scherzer’s teams in the two regular season matchups, with neither guy setting the world on fire. As so often happens in baseball, the hype hasn’t been matched by reality.
Still, there’s always a chance it will. And even if, in the end, this turns into a slugfest, the first couple of innings should at least give us some hope of something good. I’ll be watching.