It’s been far from a certainty that outfielder Jon Jay would return to the Cubs after a successful 2017 season as a complementary-outfielder-turned-pretty-much-everyday-leadoff-hitter. Given that success, there was always a chance that Jay would be able to parlay himself into the kind of multi-year, more-starting-oriented gig that the Cubs can’t really offer him.
So, then, there’s this:
Source: Mariners and OF Jon Jay are talking. No deal done, but seems as though there's some momentum there.
— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) November 22, 2017
Jay, 32, hit .296/.374/.375 (101 wRC+) for the Cubs this year, while playing average defense in the outfield. Given his ability to hit off the bench, the fact that you can’t neutralize him with lefties, his high-contact approach, and his flexibility in the outfield, that’s a valuable guy to have around.
If Jay does wind up signing elsewhere, the Cubs will still have a reasonably full outfield picture, which includes Kyle Schwarber, Albert Almora Jr., Jason Heyward, Ben Zobrist (kinda), and Ian Happ (kinda). At AAA, they’ll have Mark Zagunis, Jacob Hannemann, and Charcer Burks, among others.
Still, you might look for the Cubs to pick up a veteran outfield bat, maybe on a minor league deal, just to add to the depth.
Jay previously expressed affection for his time in Chicago, but we noted after the season that he might prefer to find a starting job elsewhere, especially if he can get a multi-year deal.
Mariners outgoing center fielder Jarrod Dyson hit just .251/.324/.350 (85 wRC+) last year in Seattle, but plays stellar defense.