Despite what the front office claims, the 2016 San Diego Padres season is a year of rebuilding. The team has solid core players, but it is painfully obvious the team still needs an adjustment with their roster. With a group of young talented players in the minors, the Padres have some issues they need to address with their major league team.
Matt Kemp, Melvin Upton Jr., and Jon Jay represent the current Padres outfield and the trio make roughly one-third of the teams payroll for the 2016 season. Kemp in particular carries a burdensome contract where he is due $21.75 million per season for the next four years (including this year). The Dodgers are paying $3.5 million of his salary each year, but still Kemp is owed a pretty penny from the Padres. His trade value is minimal at best, but with Hunter Renfroe developing, Kemp’s time in San Diego should be coming to an end. The Padres must move the slugger and if that means eating a lot of the contract, then so be it.
Melvin Upton is due for free agency after next season. At one time his contract was considered one of the worst in the game, but Mupton has picked it up after a slow start last season. He plays excellent defense, steals a base here an there and really has progressed at the plate. His $16 million salary is big, but he is justifying the pay with his play on the field. Upton could probably be moved with the Padres paying little to none of his remaining salary. That would probably depend on the return haul.
That brings us to the third outfielder and probably the most interesting case. When Jay was acquired it seemed obvious he was merely a one-year rental. He was acquired for Jedd Gyorko from the Cardinals in a cost-saving move. Jay is due for free agency at the end of the year. With Manuel Margot in the minors and Travis Jankowski already in San Diego it seemed inevitable that he would only spend one year here. However things have changed and there are whispers that the Padres could be interested in retaining Jay for at least the 2017 season and maybe beyond.
There are several things to consider here. Jay is in the final year of his contract and can explore options elsewhere at the end of the year. The Padres would get nothing in return if they let Jay walk at the end of the 2016 season. The Padres choice right now is to either trade Jay before the August first trade deadline or keep him and perhaps offer him a qualifying offer. They could also try to sign him longterm. A qualifying offer, you say? Yes. Jon Jay is right on the cusp of potentially earning a qualifying offer. The offer will be somewhere around the $16 million dollar area in the offseason. Jay made $6.85 million this year. It would be a huge raise for him. That is true. But he is having a quality year for the Padres. If Colby Rasmus can be given the offer, then why not Jon Jay? Jay is the far superior outfielder than Rasmus.
Would he take the QO or would he elect a long-term deal somewhere else and would that potential team surrender a pick to sign Jay? Many unanswered questions surround the left-handed hitting center fielder. The Padres would love to get another first round pick next season if Jay were given the offer and refuses it. That’s a huge IF though.
The value of Jon Jay can increase or decrease very easily in the last few months of the season. By the August 31 waiver deadline a decision must be made about Jay and his future. He could easily be trade bait if he fetches the proper amount of prospects. Don’t be surprised either if the team extends him to a friendly team deal. With Margot still developing, Jon Jay could be a valuable piece for the future. His leadership abilities are priceless in the locker room. Especially for a young developing team.