Age: March 15, 1985 (33)
Statistics: .268/.330/.347, 19 2B, 7 3B, 3 HR, 40 RBI, 4 SB, 3 CS
Advanced Stats: 0.8 bWAR,0.8 fWAR, 83 OPS+, 86 wRC+
Defensive Stats: LF (-1 DRS, 1.9 UZR), CF (2 DRS, 3.3 UZR), RF (6 DRS, 1.5 UZR)
A second round pick in the 2006 draft, Jay has carved out an interesting career for himself. Everywhere he goes he has been a solid contributor, and he has been quite beneficial in the clubhouse.
Back in 2017, Ben Zobrist said of Jay, “Jon Jay, to me, the 2017 Cubbies don’t go without him.” He picked us up on the field and off the field in a lot of ways when we struggled.” (Patrick Mooney, NBC Sports). Last offseason, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Dispatch noted how respected Jay was among Cardinals players, “It is worth noting that the past few years, players have mentioned how he’s been missed as a presence.”
While Jay’s clubhouse influence is noted, how players are ultimately judged is their on the field production. Over the course, of his career, Jay has been a productive but not great player.
Over his nine year career, Jay is the epitome of a league average hitter with a career 100 OPS+ and a 103 wRC+. As an outfielder, he has a 2 DRS with his best numbers coming in right field. Keep in mind those, numbers are a bit skewed towards the negative as back in 2013, he was a -10 DRS in center. Since that time, Jay has been a -1 in center.
Aside from a stretch is 2015 – 2016 when Jay dealt with a pair of fractures, he has generally stayed on the field. He has been a good pinch hitter hitting .282/.363/.376 in 177 plate appearances. He is a player you can trust on your bench, and he is a player who is a more than capable fill-in in the event one of your starters go down with injury on either a long or short-term basis.
Last year, Jay was signed by the Diamondbacks to a one year $3 million deal. After struggling over the course of 84 games, he was traded to the Royals where he rebounded. Steamer projects Jay to hit .262/.324/.354 with a 0.3 fWAR. Baseball Reference projects him to hit .267/.333/.360. All told, this is indicative of Jay receiving another one year deal with approximately $3 million.
With the Mets having lost Curtis Granderson and even recently respected veteran Jay Bruce, the Mets could use players like Jay. Along with Robinson Cano, you would have a pair of position players who have won a World Series, and you have players who can help younger Mets players navigate their way through a season and hopefully a postseason.
More than that, Jay serves as outfield depth. Should one of their outfielders go down with an injury, you can play Jay everyday in center. Depending on how the offseason shakes out, you can have him share time or platoon with Juan Lagares in center, which could help an injury prone Lagares make it through a full season.
Mostly, the Mets need Jay because they need depth. While much of the focus on the Mets has been their under .500 finishes and scrutiny being directed at their everyday players, the real issue has been depth. Jay provides you with depth, needed depth. If the Mets don’t sign him, they need to sign someone with a similar skill-set. At $3 million, there is no excuses.