Theo Epstein made a number of moves in the 2016-2017 offseason to improve or fill in spots for the coming year. Highlighted were moves like trading Jorge Soler for Wade Davis or signing Brett Anderson. One move that was initially kind of under-the-radar was signing veteran platoon OF Jon Jay.
Seen as just a platoon/bench guy for this season, he has had a decent amount of playing time. So far through two weeks he has done some very positive things. The 32-year old Jay is posting a .333/.440/.869 slash in 11 games played (through 4/19). It seems like Jay has been part of a number of key rallies as of late which has grabbed more people’s attention.
This week, he hit an RBI triple off the wall on Tuesday and in Wednesday’s comeback win vs. Milwaukee, had a great plate appearance going from 0-2 to a walk after fouling a lot of pitches and taking close ones; Jay would score the tying run on Kris Bryant’s RBI single.
While Jay is part of an outfield that is jam-packed with Schwarber, Almora, Heyward as the main guys and Zobrist often playing out there as well, he still gets in the games. He has started some games in center when Almora hasn’t played, and if not, often a go-to pinch hitter.
Jay is a career .353 OBP guy and doesn’t strike out a lot with solid basreunning numbers; career UBR (ultimate base running) of 9.6 in eight years. While his advanced metric defensive numbers are not Heyward-like, his .995 career fielding percentage at least shows he won’t make mistakes on routine plays. These are all things the Cubs scheme values: getting on base, solid baserunning and steady (and versatile) defense which makes Jay a good here. It also helps having another veteran outfielder for Albert Almora Jr. to be mentored under.
Is he an everyday starter? No. Is he likely going to be an all star? No. Will he play as much as Almora, Schwarber, Heyward or Zobrist? No. But a solid and versatile guy like Jay is a great thing to have on a team, it allows more weapons on the bench and provide reliable relief to other teammates. Once again, good signing Theo.