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August 19, 2013 / Nat Anacostia

David DeJesus? Huh?

This afternoon the Nats announced that they had acquired outfielder David DeJesus from the Chicago Cubs and had released Roger Bernadina. 

Many Nats fans are undoubtedly wondering why this move was made. Yes, Bernadina has been an awful hitter this season, with no signs of coming out of his slump. And DeJesus is a pretty good acquisition, especially as a fourth outfielder—a league average hitter and fielder who can play all three positions.

But why now, when the odds of making the wild-card play-in game are so minuscule? This is the kind of move that should have been made six or seven weeks ago when it could have moved the team’s playoff odds.

Maybe Mike Rizzo is simply tardy, but the other possibility is that this deal is mostly about the option year. DeJesus’s contract includes a $6.5 million team option for 2014. Maybe Rizzo has convinced the Lerner’s that they need to spend some real money on the bench next year to avoid a repeat of this season’s bench debacle. $6.5 million is a lot for a fourth outfielder, but it could be less than for an equivalent free agent. Also, a free agent might insist on a two-year deal, whereas Rizzo has been very reluctant to sign marginal players in their 30s to multi-year deals.

I guess in a few weeks we’ll find out if it really is about the option year.

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