Seattle Mariners Interested in Free Agent Jon Jay


Early this afternoon, it was reported by report Mike Feinsand, that the Seattle Mariners, ” talking with free agent outfielder Jon Jay.” While not a guarantee to happen, the talks are said to have “traction”.

The talks are apparently in the beginning stages, but things could move quickly. So lets break down Jon Jay, and look at his potential fit with the Mariners.

The Player

Jon Jay is a 33-year-old, left-handed outfielder who spent last season with the Chicago Cubs. In 433 PA in 2017, Jay slashed .296/.374/.375 with a wRC+ of 101. Jay grades out as a solid base-runner, though his skill is not at stealing bases. While not a base stealer or power hitter, Jay still provides some value.

Thanks largely to his base-running skills and plus on-base skill, Jay garnered a respectable 1.6 fWAR in 141 games. Jay’s defense is where the most questions lie. Jay posted an average DRS (defensive runs saved) of zero in both corner spots and was a below-average -4 DRS in centerfield.

Jay can play all 3 outfield spots and not kill his team. However; with his average defense and arm, Jay is probably best suited for left field.

The Fit

Insert shrug emoji here. Jay’s fit is not exactly clear at the moment. The most obvious hole in the Mariners outfield is center field. While Jay is not atrocious in center, asking him to be your every day guy is sub-optimal.

Jay is better suited for left field, but the spot is currently filled by second year player Ben Gamel. Gamel had a fantastic first 6 weeks, but severely faltered down the stretch. He still slashed a respectable .275/.322/.413 and posted an identical WAR to Jay’s 1.6.

Paying a veteran to fill a role currently being filled by a cheaper, better option is quizzical to say the least. Gamel is just 25 years old and still has 5 years of club control left. Replacing Gamel with Jay does not make the Mariners better, and would cost the team money they can spend elsewhere.

The other potential fit fans have been coming up with is to platoon with Guillermo Heredia. We have already established that Jay is a mediocre CF at best, but does Jay even make sense a platoon mate? Not really.

Consider this: in 2017, Jay slashed .289/.364/.384 against RHP. Pretty solid right? Well, against lefties, Jay slashed .318/.410/.341! Using Heredia against lefties doesn’t make a lot of sense when Jay handles them just fine.

Gamel also handles lefties well, so that platoon doesn’t make a ton of sense either. There is no obvious fit for Jay, but he could allow Dipoto to shop Gamel or Heredia for a starting pitcher. Only time will tell.

The Cost

No contract figures were reported, so the cost is still up in the air. Jay made $8 million last season, and will most certainly look to top that this year. Dave Cameron of Fangraphs predicts a 1 year, $7 million contract for Jay.

A deal in that neighborhood mitigates some of the risk for the Mariners, but also doesn’t make the fit seems any more clear. Spending $7 million on a potential marginal upgrade in the outfield gives the Mariners $7 million less to spend on an area of need.

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$7 million is the cost of one solid reliever. It can also get you a decent lottery ticket starter like Jeremy Hellickson. Only time will tell if this deal comes to fruition, but for the time being, it is difficult to see the fit for the veteran outfielder in Seattle.