2020 Stats: 18 G, 57 PA, .160/.211/.240. 21 OPS+, 1 HR, 4 RBI. -0.4 WAR
2020 Salary: $1,500,000
2021 Status: Free Agent
Jon Jay, much like the rest of the Diamondbacks, had a year to forget on the field. Brought back for a second stint with the team, he did not get to play much, and when he did, he was not productive. While the aging veteran brings a good clubhouse presence and leadership, and is very active in the community and in charitable activity, it didn’t translate to on field success in 2020. In fact when searching the MLB Film Room, ZERO results popped up when entering his name.
That’s unfortunate. But it’s a good time to remember that through the first 5 years of his career Jay was a very good player. Baseball Reference Player Page. Playing for the Cardinals he hit .295 with a .755 OPS and a 109 OPS+ , averaging 2.3 WAR per year while playing mostly errorless centerfield. Not blessed with great speed or range, he is sure handed and sports a .996 Fldg. % in CF, making only 6 errors in over 5400 innings.
A 2015 wrist injury wrecked his season, and the last 5 years he’s averaged just a 86 OPS+, with steep decline coming over the last two. Still, teams have seen value in his outfield versatility, contact skills, and the aforementioned Veteran Presence. He’s appeared in 5 NLCS and two World Series.
In 2020 he was afforded the opportunity to reach 10 years service time, which is a very big deal for Major League players. A good article explains it HERE , but the gist is he became fully vested in the pension plan and benefits, and earns the respect of his peers for reaching that milestone. It may not seem important to us, but it is to the players. And “good guys” that are good teammates and play hard are often afforded extra opportunity to reach the 10 year mark. It pays not to be a jerk.
It’s hard to say if he will latch on with any team in 2021 or if he will be forced into retirement. It would appear his days as a productive major leaguer are likely over. But wherever he ends up, I wish him well. He’s a good dude and deserves a good post playing career opportunity.