PHOENIX -- The D-backs bolstered their injury-depleted outfield by acquiring Jonathan Jay from the Royals on Wednesday night in exchange for two Minor Leaguers.Jay, 33, is having a good year for Kansas City after signing a one-year, $3 million contract this past offseason. He has incentives in his contract that
PHOENIX -- The D-backs bolstered their injury-depleted outfield by acquiring Jonathan Jay from the Royals on Wednesday night in exchange for two Minor Leaguers.
Jay, 33, is having a good year for Kansas City after signing a one-year, $3 million contract this past offseason. He has incentives in his contract that pay him $100,000 for every 25 plate appearances beginning with 250.
The D-backs had serious conversations about signing Jay during the offseason, but it did not come to fruition.
"He's somebody that we pursued in the offseason and just got a lot of comfort with," D-backs general manager Mike Hazen said. "He's off to a great start this year, having a really good season. We feel like he fits very nicely with what we're trying to do, he fits in at all three outfield spots. So he comes in certainly at a time when we need him."
To acquire Jay, the D-backs had to part with two pitching prospects -- lefty Gabe Speier and right-hander Elvis Luciano, who was the club's 26th-ranked prospect, per MLB Pipeline.
In 266 plate appearances this season, Jay is slashing .307/.363/.374 and he has seen time at all three outfield positions.
That's crucial for the D-backs, who have been without right fielder Steven Souza Jr. for all but a few weeks this year and lost center fielder A.J. Pollock to an avulsion fracture of his left thumb last month.
Pollock, who was injured May 14, was expected to be out at least four weeks and possibly eight. Souza, meanwhile, strained his right pec diving for a ball during Spring Training and was on the disabled list until May 3.
A few weeks later, Souza continued to feel discomfort in the pec and was placed back on the disabled list. A recent MRI showed there is still some swelling in the area.
Chris Owings and Jarrod Dyson have gotten most of the playing time in their absence, but the Arizona offense as a whole has struggled. The D-backs are last in the Majors in batting average and have scored the third-fewest runs in the National League.
The D-backs got off to a 21-8 start, but they struggled in May, going 8-19.
A big factor in the timing of the move was the tight NL West race, with just 4 1/2 games separating the D-backs and Rockies at the top and the Padres at the bottom. The D-backs open a three-game set with the Rockies at Coors Field on Friday night and Jay is expected to be in uniform.
"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, and it's certainly mattering right now," Hazen said. "Given that there's still going to be some time between when we get a full complement of that team that we put together in Spring Training back together again, we felt like this was too important to sort of pass up."
Speier, 23, came to the D-backs from the Braves in the Shelby Miller deal in December 2015. He was 1-0 with a 3.03 ERA in 20 appearances for Double-A Jackson this year.
Luciano, 18, pitched in the Dominican Summer League as well as for the Rookie Arizona League D-backs and Rookie-Advanced Missoula last year.
To make room on the 40-man roster for Jay, the D-backs designated infielder/outfielder Kristopher Negron for assignment. The 32-year-old had his contract selected from Triple-A Reno on Monday.
Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.