Considering Jon Jay and The Future

Kevin C. Cox

In which the author places the onus on his readers to decide the fate of one Jonathan Jay.

Hi there, boys and girls. How are you today?

I'm in a rather large hurry at the moment, but I wanted to try and make sure I got something done this morning; I hate forcing you all to wait until later in the day to have a new thread. So I had an idea for something short, and I thought I would toss it to all of you for discussion.

Plus, there's literally nothing going on in Cardinal Land at the moment. In fact, the most detailed post idea I could think of this morning (that hasn't already been talked about), was to break down the various candidates the Redbirds might be looking at to help in the...lefty...reliever...

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-- huh? What?

Where am I? Oh, sorry, I dozed off for a second there trying to be into the idea of covering left-handed relievers for next season.

Anyway, I just have a simple little discussion topic for you this morning. What would you all think of an extension for Jon Jay this offseason? To me, Jay is one of the more intriguing cases on this team as the new look Redbirds of the past couple seasons attempt to define what the new core of this team really is.

On one hand, he's proven himself to be a solid player, with a better glove than I think most of us expected, and an ability to hit for a high average. A career OPS of .773, wRC+ of 116, and a WAR total of 8.0 over most of three seasons are all numbers you can get behind. He isn't an all-star level talent, necessarily, but you could do a whole lot worse. At the moment, the Cards could lock him up for a reasonable salary and ensure they have their starting centerfielder for years to come.

On the other hand, it isn't absolutely necessary to lock Jay up right this second. He's arbitration eligible, having just over two seasons worth of service time, but free agency isn't imminent. He'll be 28 by Opening Day of 2013, which isn't old by any means, but it isn't as if you're locking up a guy at 24 to buy out his ultra-productive late twenties. These are the ultra-productive seasons for Jonny Jay, most likely. Just going year to year with arbitration would take you through his age 30 season.

RB Note: As pointed out in the comments, Jay is in fact NOT arb-eligible, having missed the cutoff date by roughly one week. My apologies for the mistake. As such is the case, I definitely don't give him an extension now, as there is even less reason now, considering he's still another season away from needing to be arbitraticised.

For all the good qualities I listed above for Jay, he isn't a superstar player, and it's possible the Cards could find an upgrade somewhere. Not guaranteed, of course, and it would likely be fairly costly to do so, but Jay isn't the kind of talent you normally think of as an absolute cornerstone.

On top of the possibility of an upgrade from outside the organisation, the rising tide that is Oscar Taveras could have something to say about Jay's long term future here as well. I've only seen Taveras play center field one time, so I have really no opinion one way or the other about his ability to stay in center for the long haul. Still, if he can, it's quite possible he could make Jay expendable sooner than later. Of course, depending on your opinion of Oscar the Great's future position, this point could easily go either way.

So what do you say, VEB? Sign Jay up for the future right now? Go year to year with an eye toward a better long-term cornerstone player in center? Or wait for now, but look to locking him up in the relatively near future?

The benefit of extending him now would likely come in the form of a very team friendly deal, as the player really has no leverage to speak of as yet. Waiting would certainly seem to be more prudent, but if Jay continues to play well his price tag could go up pretty quickly.

I can't make up my mind, personally. I've really come around on Jay after being very lukewarm on him early in his major league career, but my mind refuses to buy into him as a centerpiece on a championship-calibre squad, and I'm leery in general of players whose value is so heavily tied to batting average. Given his low service time, I see no need to extend him just yet. But, I think I could also be convinced it's a good thing if someone wanted to convince me.

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