Jay Payton (born November 22, 1972 in Zanesville, Ohio), is an outfielder in Major League Baseball who currently plays for the Oakland Athletics. He has also played for the New York Mets (1998-2002), Colorado Rockies (2002-03), San Diego Padres (2004) and Boston Red Sox (2005). He bats and throws right-handed.
Payton is an opposite-field hitter with some power. As a runner, he has decent instincts but he is not a base stealer. Defensively, he is a solid center fielder with an average arm, although his quickness getting rid of the ball helps him hold baserunners on the base paths. He also can play left field and right.
Selected by the Mets in the first round (29th pick) of the 1994 amateur draft, Payton hadn't fulfilled the great expectations he projected in Georgia Tech when he rated ahead of his teammates Nomar Garciaparra and Jason Varitek. He debuted in 1998, and after ankle, foot and back injuries in three of his first four seasons, he eventually had to alter his hitting style. With limited duty in 2001, the Mets finally gave up on him and was traded to the Rockies in the 2002 midseason.
In 2003, Payton enjoyed his most productive season with career highs in home runs (28), RBI (89), runs (93), hits (181), doubles (32), on base percentage (.354), slugging average (.512), at-bats (600), games played (157), and added a respectable .302 batting average. He was signed by San Diego as a free agent at the end of the season. What the Padres liked best was that he hit 15 of his 28 home runs away from Coors Field's thin air. But Payton had a subpar 2004 season batting .260 with eight homers and 55 RBI in 143 games. In December, he was sent to Boston for Dave Roberts and took over Roberts' role as the Red Sox fourth outfielder.
Payton was designated for assignment by the Red Sox on July 7th, 2005. On July 13, he was traded to the Oakland Athletics for pitcher Chad Bradford.
In a seven-year career, Payton is a .285 hitter with 77 home runs and 300 RBI in 715 games.