ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — From last place to the middle of a pennant race. It's been a fast-moving week for David DeJesus.
The playoff-contending Tampa Bay Rays acquired the veteran outfielder from Washington on Friday, just four days after the Nationals picked him up from the struggling Chicago Cubs.
Washington will receive a player or cash considerations.
Tampa Bay got a versatile player they have coveted for years while continuing to strengthen a roster chasing a postseason berth. The second-place Rays entered Friday night's game against the New York Yankees trailing first-place Boston by one game in the AL East.
The DeJesus deal came on the heels of the Rays reuniting with former No. 1 draft pick Delmon Young, who signed a minor league deal on Wednesday.
"Our biggest focus was on augmenting our depth," executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said. "Essentially, we've got a 37-game season, and we're doing everything we can to put together the most talented team we can going down the stretch."
DeJesus flew from Kansas City, where the Nationals were opening a weekend series, to St. Petersburg on Friday. Rays manager Joe Maddon immediately inserted him into the lineup, playing left field and batting seventh.
"That's what I'm here to do — play baseball," DeJesus said.
The 33-year-old DeJesus was acquired by the Nationals on Monday, and he played in three road games with Washington. In 87 games overall with the Nationals and Cubs, he batted .247 with six homers and 27 RBIs.
DeJesus has also played with Kansas City and Oakland during a career in which he has batted .279 with 86 homers and 513 RBIs in 11 seasons. He has never played on a team that has reached the postseason, so he is thrilled to be joining a contender.
"I went to bed (Thursday night) thinking I'm a Nat. I woke up and I'm not a Nat anymore. It's been crazy," DeJesus said. "It's an opportunity to come here and help out and be in a pennant race. I've been on a lot of losing teams, and this is exciting for me."
Friedman said the left-handed hitting DeJesus likely will play a lot against right-handed pitchers. The Rays believe he is also capable of playing all three outfield positions and is a good baserunner.
"We've had our eyes on him for some time. We tried to acquire him when he was with Kansas City," Friedman said. "He just does a lot of things that we really appreciate and value.
"The fact that we play 37 games in 38 days also factored in. Having as much depth as we possibly could was important, In our minds, this arguably is the deepest roster we've ever had."
DeJesus is appreciative of a chance to "start over, start fresh."
"I started with one of the worst teams, now I'm with one of the best teams in baseball," the outfielder said. "I just want to be here to help out the guys in any way possible, be a veteran leader and just go out there and play hard.
"That's what the Rays expect, and that's what I expect of myself."