The Mets have reached an agreement to sign free-agent outfielder Austin Jackson, reports Fancred’s Jon Heyman (via Twitter). Jackson, who is represented by Octagon, was released by the Rangers last week. MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo tweets that Jackson is signing a Major League deal.
Jackson will give New York another outfield option in the wake of Yoenis Cespedes’ season-ending surgery. Because the Rangers are paying his salary after acquiring him from the Giants, though, the Mets only owe Jackson the pro-rated league minimum for any time spent on the MLB roster. Jackson is earning $3MM in both 2018 and 2019, and whatever the Mets pay him this season will be subtracted from the sum the Rangers are paying.
While Jackson has had a dreadful season at the plate, hitting just .242/.309/.295 through 165 PAs, he’s only a season removed from raking at a .318/.387/.482 pace with the 2017 Indians. Jackson also still drew positive grades for his baserunning with the Giants, though he drew poor defensive ratings from Defensive Runs Saved (-10), Ultimate Zone Rating (-7.5) and Outs Above Average (-3) through just under 300 innings in center field this season. That said, Jackson’s defense would likely rate better in a corner slot.
As a bench option who can play center in a pinch and fill in against left-handed pitchers — for all his struggles, he did hit .288 against lefties and post a .360 OBP this season — Jackson could still provide some value to the Mets, especially when considering the minimal price tag. For the time being, he could share time in center field with Matt den Dekker, though it’s also possible that the addition of Jackson will come at den Dekker’s expense.