The St. Louis Cardinals have been one of the model organizations over the past decade, building a strong ballclub from the ground up with the foundation coming from its consistently strong minor league system. A lot of the credit for putting together such a strong roster can be attributed to those in charge who draft the players and manage them throughout the minor league and big league levels because once they get to the majors, they are ready to contribute.
Recently ranked the top farm system in all of baseball by ESPN, the Cardinals are close to unveiling another bonafide star who has come through their system. This player is outfielder Oscar Taveras. With Taveras soon to be contributing as an everyday player—and with the Cardinals already having Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday in their outfield—one must wonder if the odd outfielder out of the mix with the Cardinals will be Jon Jay.
While it may be bothersome to trade with an in-state rival to some people, the Kansas City Royals should strongly consider making a move for Jay if he is to become available. What the Cardinals would want in return, however, remains a mystery. Jay is a career .300 hitter in his three big league seasons and last season hit .305 with 4 HR, 40 RBI and 19 stolen bases in 117 games.
With a current outfield of Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain and Jeff Francoeur, their seems to be an opening at one of the outfield spots where Jay could fit in nicely. Jay could play any of the outfield spots with most of his time being spent in centerfield with the Cardinals. Francoeur was underwhelming last year and could be in for another rough season for the Royals. Instead of putting faith in a player with deteriorating skills, make Francoeur into what he should be already: a platoon player. Francoeur in the lineup is like a good spice with your food. If you use too much, you will ruin the food, but if you use just enough, it can work out perfectly.
If the Royals are committed to contending this season and beyond, an acquisition of Jay would make sense on numerous levels. First, Jay is relatively young at age 27 and has enough experience—three years—at the majors to be an effective everyday player that the Royals can count on at the top or bottom of their lineup. Secondly, Jay’s contract is very affordable at $500,000 and Jay would be under Royals control until 2017. Compared to Francoeur—who is set to make $6 million this season—Jay would be a bargain.
The Royals could also explore a trade of Francoeur to save some additional salary. It may even make sense to include Francoeur in a deal with the Cardinals where Francoeur could be part of a veteran ballclub. At any rate, the final reason Jay would be an asset to the Royals is because he has championship experience and has won a World Series. That experience is invaluable to a young team hoping to contend and perform well in the postseason. If the Royals get into a playoff chase, it would be beneficial to have Jay on the team to mentor and lead a team full of players who have never been in the situation in their careers as of yet.
While it may not be the sexy or trendy move that Royals fans are looking for, the acquisition of Jay would help the Royals this season and beyond. What the Cardinals may want in return is a lower level pitching prospect and a big league outfielder like Francoeur or Jarrod Dyson. In the end, it would come down to what the Cardinals asked for and what the Royals were willing to give up, but if you look close enough at the logistics, this deal makes sense for both clubs short-term and long-term. It’s time for the Royals to be aggressive and obtain an undervalued player who could help produce at the top or bottom of their batting order.