The Brewers, Angels, and Rangers are among the teams that have at least some level of interest in outfielder Austin Jackson, according to a report from ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick (via Twitter). Meanwhile, he adds, the Cubs could conceivably bring Jackson back “for the right price.”
We haven’t heard much at all on the market for Jackson, who has endured a tough run of late but remains an intriguing player as he nears his 29th birthday. He’s queued up behind Dexter Fowler among center fielders, and Fowler could well be waiting to see what happens with Yoenis Cespedes before he commits to a contract.
But Jackson is a notable free agent in his own right. He entered the offseason placing 35th on the top-fifty list of MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes, landing with a one-year, $12MM prediction. As Dierkes noted at the time, it has always been unclear whether Jackson would land with some kind of multi-year arrangement or instead take a one-year pillow deal in hopes of finding a bigger contract next winter.
At his best, Jackson has delivered pop and speed to go with a quality glove in center — rather a difficult mix to find. Indeed, he tallied over 15 rWAR in his first three years in the league. Things have trended downward since, as Jackson owns a cumulative .269/.319/.382 batting line since the start of 2013.
While teams probably won’t be expecting a return to his established ceiling, even the diminished Jackson looks to be a useful performer. He’s still a capable center fielder with near a league-average bat, and has traditionally performed about as well against both left-handed and right-handed pitching. And it isn’t difficult to see the reasoning behind the interest from the clubs that appear in Crasnick’s report.
As MLBTR’s Steve Adams explained in today’s podcast (around the 21:00 mark), in fact, Jackson looks like a nice fit with Texas since he could fill in all across the outfield. Los Angeles has long been seeking a solution in left field, while the Brewers’ could certainly stand to add a solid veteran in center — potentially with the hope of flipping him at the deadline or extending a qualifying offer after the season. And Chicago obviously was interested enough to add Jackson late last year. He’d possibly add an up-the-middle option to the Cubs’ outfield mix, especially if the team were to strike a trade involving Jorge Soler.