MARCH 27: The Angels have re-signed Jay to another minor-league deal, per a club announcement.
MARCH 26: The Angels have released outfielder Jon Jay and right-hander Jesse Chavez from their minor league contracts, per a club announcement. Both are once again free agents. As Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic points out, Jay’s release makes it quite likely that Juan Lagares, another non-roster veteran in camp with the Halos, will make the club as a backup outfielder.
Jay and Chavez become the latest in a long line of veterans to either opt out or be cut loose from minor league deals around the game, as teams whittle down their camp rosters with Opening Day looming. Both Jay and Chavez were Article XX(B) free agents — that is, players with six years of service time who were in camp on a minor league deal after finishing the 2020 season on a big league roster — and could have been retained into the season had the Angels been willing to pay a $100K retention bonus. Instead, they’re now free to pursue opportunities with other clubs.
The 36-year-old Jay struggled quite a bit this spring, going just 2-for-29 with an uncharacteristic 10 punchouts in 33 plate appearances. Jay, who can play all three outfield spots, is typically a contact-oriented lefty bat with a good approach at the plate, but the past couple seasons haven’t been particularly pretty.
He’s coming off a rough showing in 18 games with the 2020 D-backs, when he posted just a .160/.211/.240 batting line through an admittedly tiny sample of 57 plate appearances. Jay hit for a solid but fairly empty average with the ChiSox in 2019 when he batted .267/.311/.315 in 182 trips to the dish.
Like Jay, Chavez struggled this spring on the heels of an ugly 2020 showing. He was tagged for seven runs in 4 1/3 innings with the Angels during Cactus League play, and he was knocked arounf for a 6.88 ERA in 17 innings with the Rangers last season. The veteran righty had an outstanding season as recently as 2018 but has labored through 95 innings since that time.