ST. PETERSBURG -- David DeJesus went to Spring Training in February thinking he would be traded before the start of the regular season. Before Tuesday's 10-2 Rays win, the inevitable finally came to fruition when they traded the veteran outfielder to the Angels for Minor League right-hander Eduar Lopez.
"Totally [surprised]," DeJesus said. "I was just eating with [Joey] Butler, getting some hummus in, and then [bench coach Tom] Foley came over. I was like, it's one of those 'he gone.'"
Subsequently, manager Kevin Cash told DeJesus how much he appreciated how he handled all the trade rumors during the spring.
"And he said I was moving on to L.A.," DeJesus said. "I was like, 'Wow, my family is out there.' So it's a blessing in disguise. It stinks leaving these guys that you know, you work all season, all Spring Training, and through this season with to put ourselves in a situation to get to the playoffs. We're right there. That's the tough part about leaving. But, you know, I'm going to a first-place team and I get to move closer to where I live. I think it's a good problem."
Matt Silverman, Rays president of baseball operations, called DeJesus "a true professional."
"And even when we spoke to him a few moments ago, he was so thankful to everyone in the organization for the opportunity," Silverman said. "From Day One of Spring Training he conducted himself as a pro.
"He came in to do a job, which was to help this team win, which he's done. He never talked about his playing time. Some of the uncertainty with his role. He just went out and did whatever was asked from him and couldn't have asked for more from him all year long."
DeJesus, 35, is a 13-year veteran who hit .259 with five home runs and 26 RBIs in 82 games for the Rays this season. He started 65 games between left field, DH, and right field. He was acquired from the Nationals in August 2013, and in parts of three seasons with the Rays, he batted .254 with 13 home runs, and 56 RBIs.
Lopez, 20, went 2-2 with a 4.32 ERA in eight starts for Rookie-level Orem this season, ranking ninth in the Pioneer League in ERA, tied for first in starts and third in strikeouts per nine innings (8.9). Over parts of four Minor League seasons, he is 10-9 with a 3.39 ERA and 11.9 strikeouts per nine innings. He made his professional debut as a 17-year-old in the Dominican Summer League in 2012.
"Young Dominican pitcher," said Silverman when asked about Lopez. "We're looking to see where he might report. Thinking it might be [Class A Short] Hudson Valley. [He] throws in the low 90s, [has a] projectable body. And [he's] someone who has the potential to develop. And we'll put him into our system, let our instructors get ahold of him and see how his path can develop."
DeJesus, who met with reporters just before the start of Tuesday night's game against the Tigers at Tropicana Field, said that the Rays would always be in his heart.
"I'm thankful for the fans and thankful for the city," DeJesus said. "I've just been able to witness so much here. So I'm excited for the next step, but I'm really thankful for what I've been blessed with."
And to the fans, DeJesus had this to say: "Keep going. Your team is good. Go out there and support them."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. Listen to his
podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.