The Chicago Cubs have agreed on a contract with outfielder Jon Jay that would send him to Chicago for one-year at $8M. The deal is likely a solution to losing Dexter Fowler to free agency and should signify that the Cubs do not plan on bringing him back. Assuming Fowler does not return, Jay will join an outfield consisting of Kyle Schwarber, Ben Zobrist, Jorge Soler, Jason Heyward, Albert Almora Jr., and Matt Szczur. While nobody’s role has been clearly defined heading into next season, Jay is sure to find significant playing time somewhere on Joe Maddon’s squad.
The 31-year-old played in only 169 games the past two seasons, but before a slew of injuries, he was establishing himself as one of the most consistent hitting outfielders in the National League. A career .287 hitter, Jay has a solid combination of power and speed, as he led the league in doubles before succumbing to injury. He finished 2016 with a .291/.339/.389 slash line, and is determined to prove that injuries will not derail his career.
As if Joe Maddon needed more flexibility in his talented roster, Jay gives him versatility in the outfield and consistency at the plate. He now has, even more, match-up options on a regular basis, and could use Jay as a platoon with younger players like Almora Jr. and Soler. Their surplus in the outfield could lead the World Champions to test the trade market this winter, in an effort to paint a clearer picture of their 2017 depth chart.
The most likely player to be traded at this point is 24-year-old Jorge Soler, who played in 86 games in 2016. He has been the subject of trade talks over the past season or so, making the addition of Jay likely to rekindle those talks. The World Champion Cubs are not letting off the throttle one bit, as the signing of Jon Jay will hopefully increase their chances of a repeat next season.