Why Tampa Bay Rays Must Finalize Trade of David DeJesus

Leo Howell@LeoHowell8Contributor IIIAugust 22, 2013

CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 19:  David DeJesus #4 of the Washington Nationals pops up during the eighth inning against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on August 19, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. DeJesus was traded from the Cubs to the Nationals earlier in the day for a player to be named later.  (Photo by Brian Kersey/Getty Images)
Brian Kersey/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Rays have always been known for pitching and defense, but to make a run at the World Series this season, they will need to add a consistent bat to the lineup.

And that's why they must finalize a reported deal for Washington Nationals outfielder David DeJesus.

Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago tweeted the news earlier Thursday.

Adding a consistent bat to the lineup is job No. 1 for the Tampa Bay front office, because the team is incredibly deep at pitcher, and the bullpen was bolstered at the trade deadline with the acquisition of veteran reliever Jesse Crain.

According to Tampa Bay Times writer Marc Topkin, the Rays have "long admired" DeJesus, who is a career .279 hitter. Topkin also notes that there is a Friday deadline for the teams to complete a trade for the player.

With DH Luke Scott seemingly perpetually injured and fringe players Sean Rodriguez, Sam Fuld and Jason Bourgeois currently holding a spot on the roster, DeJesus would provide a solid veteran with proven MLB-caliber hitting skills to bolster a lineup that is extremely inconsistent.

The former Kansas City, Oakland and Chicago outfielder has been slightly down this season, batting only .248 in 320 plate appearances.

But his current OBP of .328 is better than current Rays players Desmond Jennings, Kelly Johnson and the aforementioned Rodriguez, Fuld and Bourgeois.

And with younger slugger Wil Myers joining Ben Zobrist and Evan Longoria as solid bats in the middle of the Tampa Bay lineup, the Rays are missing out on runs every time they have an unproductive out from the players DeJesus would replace.

He also fits the Tampa Bay mold with his reliable defensive play and versatility in the field. The veteran DeJesus can play every outfield position and boasts a positive UZR/150 in left and right field, according to FanGraphs. UZR/150 is a metric that judges a player's defensive ability relative to the average player at his position, and a positive UZR means DeJesus is above average at the corner outfield positions.

The Rays have the pitching and defense to win a World Series in 2013, but they have too many poor batters to pose a consistent threat to their rivals in this stretch run for the playoffs. So they must add a veteran player capable of getting on base and extending innings, and the opportunity is there if they can work out a deal for David DeJesus.