There are several outfielders available on the market as Spring Training quickly approaches. And three of those free agent outfielders finished last season on the Cubs’ active roster.
Dexter Fowler, Chris Denorfia and Austin Jackson have not landed with a team yet. While there has not been any clarity on where Dexter Fowler could sign and in turn the Cubs would get their second round pick back in June’s Draft, there are teams interested in Austin Jackson according to Jerry Crasnick.
The Brewers, Angels and Rangers have “kicked the tires” on Austin Jackson according to Crasnick. And he could be a fit back with the Cubs “for the right price.”
It is unknown if Jackson would be willing to take a diminished role with a team like the Cubs. Jackson played every day until he was dealt to the Cubs last August. The Cubs are still looking at ways to improve the defense in the outfield.
Jackson had a perceived down year at the plate in Seattle but he hit better with the Mariners than in the 54 games after the trade from Detroit in 2014. Jackson is a good defender and a natural centerfielder that can play the corner outfield spots.
Austin Jackson is represented by Scott Boras and turns 29 in a couple of weeks (Feb. 1). Jackson struggled with the Mariners two seasons ago after he was dealt to Seattle at the deadline. Jackson batted only .257/.297/.343 with 23 doubles, four triples and eight home runs in 161 games over two seasons with the Mariners.
In his five seasons with Detroit, Jackson hit .277/.342/.413 with a .755 OPS. Prior to being sent to Seattle in 2014, Jackson batted .273/.332/.398 with 25 doubles, five triples and four home runs for a .730 OPS with the Tigers.
Austin Jackson played in 29 games for the Cubs last year following the trade. Jackson hit .236/.304/.375 with seven doubles and a home run for a .679 OPS in part-time duty. Jackson walked five times with 19 strikeouts in 79 plate appearances. Jackson spent most of his time in right field (22 games) subbing for an injured Jorge Soler and also lined up in center field for eight games and in left field four times.
For the season, Jackson batted .267/.311/.385 with 25 doubles, three triples and nine home runs for a .696 OPS in 136 games between the Mariners and Cubs.
Jackson hit .281/.333/.437 with four doubles, two triples and six home runs for a .770 OPS against lefties last season.
It’s believed if the Cubs were to re-sign Dexter Fowler it would take the front office including Jorge Soler in a deal for pitching. If Jackson is willing to be a back-up at this point of his career, the Cubs could be a fit without having to clear a spot in the outfield.
As the roster is currently constructed, Chris Coghlan and Matt Szczur would be the favorites to start the season as the Cubs fourth and fifth outfielders.