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Cubs ink OF Jay to $8 million deal

Jay expected to help Chicago replace Dexter Fowler

CHICAGO - The Chicago Cubs signed outfielder Jon Jay to a one-year, $8 million contract Tuesday as they prepare for center fielder Dexter Fowler's potential departure.

Fowler, who helped the Cubs win their first World Series since 1908 last month, rejected a $17.2 million qualifying offer Nov. 11 and is expected to draw plenty of interest on the free-agent market this offseason.

Jay, 31, spent his first six seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals before batting .291 in 347 at-bats with San Diego last season. His playing time was limited by a forearm injury that sidelined him for two months and the Padres' desire to use younger players in September.

"One of the things that I respected is that the Cubs made it clear they are careful about the players they go after and recruit," Jay's agent, Nez Balelo, told ESPN. "The Cubs have built a chemistry over the past two seasons they believe has helped them evolve into a winner. I believe Jon Jay checked all of their boxes."

Jay joins a crowded outfield that includes Albert Almora Jr., Jason Heyward, Kyle Schwarber, Jorge Soler and Ben Zobrist.

The left-handed batter is a career .287 hitter with an on-base percentage of .352 while his .996 fielding percentage is the highest among active center fielders.

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