After being acquired by the Padres in December in the Jedd Gyorko trade, Jon Jay opened the 2016 season as the team's starting center fielder and leadoff hitter. Injuries limited his playing time for the second straight season, as he suffered a broken forearm after getting hit by a pitch in mid-June. Upon returning in September, the San Diego outfield was more crowded, which limited his playing time down the stretch. After signing a one-year deal with the Cubs this offseason, he projects to hit in the eight hole despite handling himself well as a table-setter with the Padres (.339 OBP). Given his career splits (108 wRC+ against RHP, 100 wRC+ against LHP), he should occupy the strong side of a center field platoon with Albert Almora. Jay hasn't flashed a modicum of pop or the ability to contribute more than a small handful of steals in recent years, so in order to be useful, he will need to get on base at a steady clip and rack up runs in a potent Cubs lineup.
Jay, who is expected to platoon with Albert Almora in center field to begin the season, may be positioned as the team's No. 9 hitter. As the left-handed hitting member of the platoon, Jay is currently positioned for the larger share of the playing time, but hitting behind the pitcher spot as opposed to leading off would chip away at Jay's ability to pile up a lot of runs scored. Nevertheless, how he performs at the plate will likely dictate how much playing time, if any, he yields to Almora against righties as the season rolls along.
Jay signed a one-year contract with the Cubs on Tuesday. Jay dealt with a broken forearm for much of 2016, which resulted in him playing in less than 100 games for the second consecutive season. However, Jay was solid at the plate when healthy. By the end of the year, he'd built a .291/.339/.389 line, but struck out at a career-high clip of 20.9 percent. Now that he's a member of the Cubs, Jay will only add to one of the league's deepest outfields, as he's expected to share time in center field with Albert Almora.
Jay is not in the lineup for Friday's game against the Diamondbacks. Jay tallied two hits in three of the last four games he started, but with the regular season winding down, manager Andy Green will hold him out Friday for the third time in five games. Travis Jankowski will get the start in center field in Jay's place.
Jay is out of the lineup Wednesday against the Dodgers. Top prospect Manuel Margot will start in center field and lead off Wednesday -- a preview of what Padres fans and Margot's fantasy owners should become accustomed to heading into 2017. Jay has still been playing almost every day of late, but could sit a couple more times before season's end as San Diego continues to work in its youngsters.
Jay is not in the lineup for Tuesday's matchup with the Red Sox. Despite being activated off the disabled list earlier in the day, the Padres elected to stick with Travis Jankowski in center field instead of slotting Jay right back into the lineup. It's unclear how the Padres plan to handle the outfield playing time situation for the rest of the month, but it would be tough to leave Jay's .752 OPS on the bench, even if Jankowski filled in well in his absence.