Former San Diego Padres outfielder Jon Jay signed with the Chicago Cubs Wednesday, making San Diego’s outfield a bit thinner as 2017 approaches.
Free agency is a time of both excitement and disappointment for baseball teams. On Wednesday, the San Diego Padres experienced a bit of the disappointment element of the season.
Jon Jay, a free agent, elected to go to the world champion Chicago Cubs instead of make a return to San Diego. His one-year, $8 million contract is a pay increase of about one million dollars from his 2016 deal.
Of course, Jay can serve as a veteran presence and platoon outfielder for a team seeking to defend their title. This is a much more appealing role than what he would be asked to do on a rebuilding San Diego club.
Still, the Padres would have liked to have re-signed their veteran, as he provided depth and proved to be a leader in the clubhouse. Now, an Opening Day roster lacking a player over the age of 30 is a serious possibility.
It isn’t a shock that Jay chose the Cubs by any means. However, the impact of losing the 31-year-old will be felt in the outfield.
With now just five players to fill three roles in the outfield according to the team’s depth chart, versatility and reliability will be key. Furthermore, since three of these five players have less than one full season of Major League experience under their belt, there will be a lot of pressure put on the team’s young players.
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The outfield without Jay consists of Hunter Renfroe, Manuel Margot, Alex Dickerson, Travis Jankowski, and Jabari Blash. While this unit is certainly capable and could easily prove to be a strength of the Padres in 2017, it is undoubtedly inexperienced.
Moving forward, Jay will be missed. But on a positive note, the team will not have to carry a multi-million dollar contract for a player who will not be part of the long term solution. This doesn’t necessarily make Jay’s exit a positive, but it provides a clear direction of the team, further indicating that whether by choice or not, the Padres are completely invested in their young players.
Ironically, Jay will now become bitter rivals of the St. Louis Cardinals, the team he spent his entire career before 2016 with. This goes to show what older players such as Jay will sacrifice to win, and also proves that Jay does not have anything against the Padres. Both sides will now go their separate ways, as Jay just wants to win.