The Chicago White Sox should sign outfielder Jon Jay, as both sides can take advantage of a potential free-agent deal.
It has been a rough offseason for most free agents in MLB, as several of the top players in the market remain unsigned. That has trickled down to the rest of the market, including Jay, who is coming off a superb season with the Chicago Cubs.
There’s a solution, however, that not only benefits Jay but also the White Sox: Sign him immediately.
Jay, the soon-to-be 33-year-old, was a free-agent pick up by the Cubs last year and played a much bigger role than first expected. The left-handed hitter was brought to the North Side of Chicago to lend a helping hand to mentoring young outfielder Albert Almora Jr. He also provided manager Joe Maddon a fourth outfielder and good left-handed bat off the bench.
Jay brought much more to the table. He ended up playing in 141 games (starting in 86) and was fantastic at the plate. In 379 at-bats, Jay put up an incredible .374 OBP, hitting .296, while playing at all three outfield positions.
You may be asking why the White Sox should sign an outfielder in his 30s, considering the team is still a few years away from postseason contention. Well, that’s exactly why.
Jon Jay and the White Sox are a perfect match
The White Sox are still rebuilding and signing Jay could lead to another move down the road. A part of any team’s rebuild is signing veterans, getting the most out of them for half a season and then flipping them at the deadline.
White Sox GM Rick Hahn has already flipped some low-profile free agents in the past year. Reliever Anthony Swarzak signed with the White Sox in January 2017, and was then traded to the Milwaukee Brewers six months later for a prospect. Hahn did the same with starting pitcher Miguel Gonzalez, who was traded at the August 31, deadline to the Texas Rangers for another prospect.
Right now Avisail Garcia, Nicky Delmonico, Adam Engel and Leury Garcia are the four projected outfielders to make the 25-man roster on Opening Day. Would it really hurt the White Sox if Engel or Leury Garcia didn’t make the cut and in place of either Jay is signed?
It’s not like Jay would be taking playing time from any of the top prospects. Plus, there’s no market for Jay right now, so it wouldn’t cost the White Sox much money either. At worst, Jay signs and if he can’t be traded he’ll still be comfortable in the role of a mentor like he was last year when he signed with the Cubs.
“The big thing that appealed to me was that Albert Almora is there, a young stud that’s a great center fielder,” Jay said, referring to the 22-year-old, former first-round Draft pick who got his first taste of the Major Leagues in 2016. “[I want to] help him out any way I can. I was lucky enough to have Carlos Beltran kind of mentor me in my years in St. Louis, and I’m looking forward to doing that with Albert.”
At some point in 2018, top outfield prospect Eloy Jimenez is expected to make his MLB debut with the White Sox. Again, worst case scenario, Jay is still around to provide some veteran leadership alongside Jose Abreu.
Why would Jay want to sign with the White Sox? For one, Jay would have a chance to grab a lot of playing time early on and could parlay his success by being dealt to a playoff contender.
Jay said he loved his one year with the Cubs, and obviously, that has a lot to do with the team, but the city of Chicago itself has to play a factor as well.
The Cubs signed Jay to a one-year contract last offseason that was worth $8 million. It’s obvious by this current market that the outfielder won’t be getting a raise, as Jay has built minimal interest during the winter from any team.
Finally, unlike the rumored contact between the White Sox and free agent Mike Moustakas, signing Jay wouldn’t cost Hahn a pick in the upcoming draft.
It’s time for Jay to come back to the windy city — this time on the South Side.