Arizona Diamondbacks acquire outfielder Jon Jay from Royals

Jun 6, 2018, 6:00 PM | Updated: Jun 7, 2018, 7:27 am
Kansas City Royals' Jon Jay hits an RBI-single in the third inning of a baseball game against the N...

Kansas City Royals' Jon Jay hits an RBI-single in the third inning of a baseball game against the New York Yankees at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., Friday, May 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)

(AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)

The Arizona Diamondbacks have acquired outfielder Jon Jay from the Kansas City Royals in exchange for two minor-league pitchers.

“We felt like where we are in the division right now, how the division is shaking out with almost all five teams sitting right on top of each other, we felt like every marginal move was going to matter,” D-backs general manager Mike Hazen said in a conference call. “It is certainly mattering right now.”

The D-backs will send left-handed pitcher Gabe Speier and right-handed pitcher Elvis Luciano to Kansas City.

Jay, 33, is hitting .307 with one home run and 18 RBI in 59 games and 266 at-bats for the Royals this season. Per spotrac, Jay makes $3 million in 2018 and will be an unrestricted free agent after this season.

Arizona pursued Jay in the offseason. Hazen said they were in contact “quite frequently” and came “fairly close” to signing the outfielder. It didn’t materialize, though, and Jay went to Kansas City.

Over the first couple months of the season, Jay has played all over the outfield for the Royals. He has 27 starts in left, 15 in center and nine in right. He ranks second in the majors in singles with 61 and was the team’s player of the month in May after batting .368. Jay has 67 games of postseason experience, the fifth-most among active players and has appeared in two World Series with the St. Louis Cardinals.

As a career .290 hitter, Jay will be a welcome addition to the outfield, where Jarrod Dyson (.206) and Chris Owings (.189) have struggled to pick up the slack in place of the injured A.J. Pollock and Steven Souza Jr.

“Certainly with the injuries that we’ve sustained over the early part of the season, we just felt like this was an area that we were going to need to address in the short-term,” Hazen said.

Even with the trade, Hazen said the timetables for Souza and Pollock’s recoveries haven’t changed.

“With the way the division is shaping up, where every day matters more and more, we just felt like this was the right thing to do at the time,” Hazen said.

Speier, 23, has 20 appearances with Double-A Jackson in 2018 with a 3.03 ERA. He is not ranked in the D-backs’ top 30 prospects on MLB Pipeline.

Luciano, however, checks in at No. 26 on those rankings. The 18-year-old had a 2.84 ERA in 16 games combined with the Dominican Summer League D-backs, Rookie AZL D-backs and Rookie-Advanced Missoula in 2017.

Hazen doesn’t think it was too large of a price for Jay.

“(It) doesn’t preclude us from doing anything else in the future, we just felt like it was the right move for right now,” he said.

To make room on the 40-man roster, the D-backs have designated Kristopher Negron for assignment.

Negron recently started for the D-backs on Tuesday in right field. In two games for Arizona this season, Negron was 1-for-3 from the plate with one RBI.

Jay is expected to be with the team when they travel to Denver for a three-game series against the Rockies beginning Friday.

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