(BaseballStL) - It may not seem like a big deal to most within the baseball world but I’m sure this is a big deal to Cardinals outfielder Jon Jay. The two-year deal he’s agreed to with the team represents something he has never known before.
Well, it’s not much. The Cardinals center fielder knows he’ll receive just under $11 million between now and the end of the 2016 season. But up to this point Jay has never been assured of anything; not his job, not his salary, not his place in the organization.
At least now he knows he’s here for at least two more years barring something crazy happening.
This says a couple things. First of all the Cards are clearly putting Jay ahead of Peter Bourjos on the depth chart in center. Last year when they traded for Bourjos from the Angels it was still a competition. Now, it’d be hard to imagine paying someone $3.5 million in 2015 and $6.225 million in 2016 to come off the bench.
Bourjos is a bench player. Jay is the starter. That’s clear for the next couple years.
Beyond that, obviously, nothing is guaranteed. Randal Grichuk could emerge as an everyday threat or someone else (Charlie Tilson? Tommy Pham?) could do something no one expects.
It’s noteworthy though that GM John Mozeliak is willing to commit to Jay beyond this season when he really didn’t have to. He easily could have gone year-to-year with him and done the arbitration/salary dance again next winter.
But Mozeliak is clearly rewarding consistency. And Jon Jay is the model of that. He’s a career .295 hitter in 2,146 big league at-bats. The 29-year old has never hit worse than .276 or better than .305. His on-base percentage ranges from a career worst .344 in 2011 to .373 in 2012.
That’s awfully good. You know exactly what you’re going to get from the man. It’s not like you have to wonder whether he’s going to 27 home runs or 11 (see: Heyward, Jason). Obviously, Jay isn’t a super star. He’s unlikely to be making too many All Star teams in his career – you wouldn’t think – and doesn’t hit 20-25 home runs which usually get the attention of casual baseball fans outside of St. Louis.
I highly doubt Mozeliak will view Jay as part of the team’s core when Matt Holliday, Jhonny Peralta and Yadier Molina move on.
But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for the center fielder. He’s well above average defensively and gets on base at a pretty good clip. So until Jay makes too much money which would then warrant sending out someone else for a cheaper price it’s likely we’ll see #19 in center field for a while.