Veteran outfielder Jon Jay came to terms Tuesday with the Chicago Cubs on a one-year contract worth $8 million, according to the Associated Press.
The Cubs later confirmed the signing on Twitter.
Jay developed into a reliable offensive producer across six years with the St. Louis Cardinals. He put up a .354 OBP and .738 OPS across 757 games with the organization before the Cardinals traded him to the San Diego Padres in a deal for Jedd Gyorko last offseason.
Just like his final year in St. Louis, however, the center fielder’s debut season in San Diego failed to reach expectations because of injury. He battled through wrist problems in 2015 and was limited to 90 games this past season because of a broken forearm.
Those setbacks, combined with the fact he’s not a major power or speed threat, left his stock a bit up in the air as his previous contract came to an end.
In August, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune noted Jay expressed interest is staying with the Padres but also discussed the attractiveness of hitting the open market:
I love San Diego, I love what’s going on, I love where the team’s headed. Obviously, with free agency, you wait so long to get to this point as a player, you want to see what’s out there. But at the same time, I feel very comfortable here. I do like it a lot here, so this is definitely something my wife and I will discuss when we’re making those decisions.
It’s a common internal debate for free agents, especially a late bloomer like Jay, who will have a limited number of chances to cash in.
In the end, Jay decided the Cubs gave him the best opportunity to make a significant impact moving forward. It’s not a major loss for the Padres, however, since several of their outfield prospects such as Manuel Margot and Hunter Renfroe are ready for full-time roles in the majors.
Jay is capable of playing anywhere in the outfield, and that versatility is valuable as Chicago starts building its lineup for next season. His ability to get on base could make him a nice fit for the No. 2 spot in the lineup, too.
He’s not the flashiest player in the field, and his signing won’t generate a ton of attention, but he can provide a nice boost if he can stay healthy for the first time since 2014.