Free-agent outfielder Jon Jay agreed to a one-year, $4 million deal with the Chicago White Sox, a source confirmed to ESPN, adding another close friend of Manny Machado as the White Sox pursue the star in free agency.
The 33-year-old Jay, who will join his sixth team in the past five seasons, trains with Machado and new White Sox first baseman Yonder Alonso, who is Machado’s brother-in-law. The White Sox’s attempts to entice Machado have come alongside their interest in outfielder Bryce Harper, the other big-name free agent who remains available.
Jay’s deal, which was first reported by USA Today and is pending a physical, gives Chicago depth in an outfield with numerous holes. Jay has carved out a career as a high-on-base, low-slug outfielder who is passable in center field but better suited defensively in a corner. He hit .268/.330/.347 with Kansas City and Arizona last season, struggling after his midseason trade to the Diamondbacks.
Like Alonso, Jay can play an important role in the White Sox’s 2019 season even without Machado. Their presence clearly would ease the transition for Machado, though, as Chicago tries to come from an underdog position to convince him to join an up-and-coming franchise.
How much the White Sox are willing to spend — and how long a deal they’re willing to offer — remains the question that will prove whether they are players in the biggest sweepstakes this winter. While the White Sox have a preference to land one of the stars on a shorter-term deal, league sources reiterated to ESPN that if the market were to bear a deal upward of 10 years at a reasonable average annual value, Chicago would not necessarily extract itself from the bidding.
The threshold of that dollar value remains unclear, though it would be a significant departure from the history of the franchise’s spending, in which Jose Abreu’s six-year, $68 million guarantee is the largest ever given a White Sox player.
Chicago has been among the busiest teams this winter, adding Alonso, starter Ivan Nova and reliever Alex Colome via trade and signing catcher James McCann and reliever Kelvin Herrera, with whom they agreed on a two-year, $18 million deal Monday, sources told ESPN.