San Diego Padres: How Important is Re-Signing Jay?
Outfielder Jon Jay is one of the only veteran players on the San Diego Padres roster. Clearly, general A.J. Preller would like to keep him, but how far does he go in this effort?
As winter approaches and free agency comes into focus, the San Diego Padres will be in the middle of a lot of this year’s conversation. One free agent which will especially make headlines is Jon Jay, who played in the outfield for the Padres in 2016.
Making just short of seven million dollars in 2016, the most in his career, Jay now faces free agency. While the decision for the 31-year-old is a crucial one, the choice the Padres have to make about how much they will push for the veteran is equally important.
On one hand, it is important for San Diego to re-sign Jay due to his veteran presence on the field and in the clubhouse. For a young team, having at least one player with experience is key to development. For this reason alone, general manager A.J. Preller would extend Jay in a heartbeat if it was that easy.
This time around though, it isn’t. Playoff teams are calling, and Jay doesn’t have an entire career in front of him. Plus, if money is his key motive, San Diego isn’t going to keep up with some of baseball’s biggest spenders.
In 2016, the former St. Louis Cardinal hit .291 and drove in 26 runs in just 90 games. His contributions were welcomed, but not exactly critical to the outcome of the year.
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Jay brings consistency and versatility, traits that are always important. However, his value may be better served for a contending team seeking to solidify their defense and/or top of the order. This is why teams such as the Dodgers, Yankees, Rangers, or Blue Jays would be willing to pay more than San Diego.
Of course, the Padres would still like to extend Jay. His veteran presence is important, and the contributions he makes in the outfield are beneficial to an organization still trying to get off and running. Unfortunately, San Diego may not want to give him a pay raise, and for good reasons.
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Getting rid of a possible large contract could actually end up helping San Diego. Jay is a seasoned veteran, and will receive larger offers elsewhere. Whether or not the Padres match those offers is still unknown, but it looks more and more unlikely that they will. This will mean that San Diego will need to sign another veteran, hopefully a much less expensive one. But this, of course, will only be the case if Jay decides against returning to San Diego for a second season.