With his first multiyear deal, Jay avoids arbitration

Cards center fielder under contract through '16

With his first multiyear deal, Jay avoids arbitration

ST. LOUIS -- Jon Jay, the Cardinals' lone remaining unsigned arbitration-eligible player, has avoided a hearing by agreeing to a two-year, $10.975 million deal, which the organization announced Monday. This marks the first multiyear contract of Jay's career.

The breakdown of the contract, according to a source, includes a $1.25 million signing bonus, $3.5 million salary for 2015 and $6.225 million salary for '16. Jay will be free-agent eligible at the end of the deal.

Had an agreement not been reached between the parties, Jay would have been the focus of an arbitration hearing next week. As it is, he's the third arbitration-eligible player to be awarded a multiyear deal by the Cardinals this winter. Reliever Jordan Walden and starter Lance Lynn also received more than a year-to-year guarantee.

"Going year to year is typical in these situations, unless both parties can agree on the value of each year and then apply a discount for the out years guaranteed," general manager John Mozeliak said. "After trying to resolve these issues, we were finally able to reach an agreeable structure for this year and next."

Jay's status within the organization changed fairly dramatically over the past year. After debuting in 2010 and becoming an everyday player in '11, Jay opened '14 unsure how much playing time he'd be given after the Cardinals acquired Peter Bourjos.

But Bourjos struggled in the early going and Jay seized the opening to reassert himself as the club's starting center fielder. He went on to lead the team with a .303 batting average while posting a .372 on-base percentage and .378 slugging percentage. He was hit 20 times, most in the Majors, and batted .483 during the postseason.

In his five years with the Cardinals, Jay has hit .295/.359/.396 while fitting in various spots within the lineup. The bulk of his at-bats have come in the two-hole, though Jay has also enjoyed extended stints batting leadoff and fitting down in the bottom third of the order.

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.