Chicago Cubs: Jon Jay needs to be re-signed this winter

(Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
(Photo by David Banks/Getty Images) /
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PHOENIX, AZ – AUGUST 11: Jon Jay /

Jon Jay has been an important part of the Chicago Cubs’ season. For that reason, the Cubs need to give him a long-term deal

Coming into the 2017 season, the Chicago Cubs needed to find a new lead-off hitter. Dexter Fowler, who held down the job for the better part of 2015 and 2016, had just signed a five-year, $82.5 million deal with the St. Louis Cardinals.

Despite the absence of Fowler, the Cubs felt confident they had a replacement. That replacement came in the form of Kyle Schwarber who missed the majority of the 2016 regular season with a knee injury. Despite having only four at-bats during the regular season, Schwarber returned just in time for the World Series. In 17 at-bats against the Indians, Schwarber logged seven hits and slashed .412/.500/.471.

With Schwarber healthy and ready for his first full season in the big leagues, Joe Maddon decided to try the 24-year-old as the team’s new lead-off man. Looking back, it is safe to say that experiment did not work out.

Schwarber got off to a slow start in April, hitting just .204 and striking out 35 times in 93 at-bats. The month of May was not any kinder to Schwarber as he slashed just .120/.232/.337 with 25 strikeouts in 83 at-bats.

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Team turns toward other options

Do to the struggles of Schwarber; the Cubs were forced to pursue other options atop the line-up. As the season progressed, the Cubs used a combination of Anthony Rizzo, Albert Almora, Ben ZobristIan Happ, Jason Heyward and Jon Jay to plug the hole in the line-up.

While many options were used in the short-term, two players earned the majority of at-bats in the lead-off spot, Ben Zobrist and Jon Jay. Even though Zobrist provided solid production atop the order (.253/.330/.438 in 162 at-bats), it was the play of Jay that stood out.

In 217 at-bats in the lead-off position, Jay slashed .267/.325/.350 with 11 doubles and a triple.

With that solid performance, Jay did well to make his case for a long-term contract at season’s end, something he and the Cubs could benefit from.