Phillies General Manager Matt Klentak is already making low-risk/high-reward moves thanks to an abundance of cash. Signing Jon Jay would be another move that could pay off in more ways than one.
Philadelphia needs to make a move in the outfield, and free agency might be the best route. Getting a player with a high on-base percentage who can also play defense is a must for the Phillies, and Jon Jay might be the best option.
Jon Jay came up through the Cardinals organization, and was a productive member of their 2011 World Championship team. In his rookie season Jay hit .300 in 105 games while striking out only 50 times. The following season he hit .297 on his way to the World Series, and followed that year up hitting .305.
After a rough 2015 season where he hit just .210 and was limited to 79 games, the Cardinals traded him to San Diego. Jay rebounded on the west coast, hitting a team-high .291 and finishing second in the dugout in doubles.
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Jay provides the versatility Peter Bourjos brought last year, but with a much better bat and less speed. The former Cardinal Jay primarily plays center field, but has experience in right as well. I would much-rather prefer the 31-year-old Jay in right than Aaron Altherr, Darin Ruf, or another slop Rule 5 pick.
Signing Jay won’t break the bank, but that aspect does not matter this year for Klentak. He has a large amount of cash available to spend, currently sitting last in baseball in salary.
Last year Jay made $6.2 million with the Padres. If the Phillies offer a number somewhere in that range on a one-year deal with the possibility of a mutual option, they have their opening day right fielder.
Jay is the type of player the Phillies can also move at the trade deadline if they deem Nick Williams ready to be an every-day outfielder. Like the trade for Pat Neshek on Friday, Jay is a veteran presence that can produce on the field and become trade bait in the summer.