Jed Hoyer said Friday the front office is monitoring the free agent market. The Cubs were not close to a deal with a position player or a pitcher. Hoyer pointed out they are happy with the roster they’ve assembled for Spring Training. But like every team, the Cubs are always looking for ways to improve.
One of the free agents the Cubs have been connected to at various times throughout the off-season is Austin Jackson. And there could be interest in re-signing him to help with the outfield defense that remains a point of emphasis for the front office.
Jesse Rogers mentioned Jackson could be one of the free agents the Cubs are monitoring. Jackson is available and is drawing interest from the Indians, White Sox, Angels, Brewers and possibly the Rangers according to Jon Heyman.
According to Nick Cafardo, Jackson is getting a “few bites” from teams and “could land with the Rangers or Cubs.” Both teams are looking for backup options in the outfield that can help shore up the outfield defense.
Jackson batted a combined .267/.311/.385 in 136 games for the Mariners and Cubs last season with 25 doubles, three triples and nine home runs for a .696 OPS. With the Cubs, Jackson hit .236/.304/.375 with seven doubles and a home run for a .679 OPS in 29 games (72 at bats).
Jackson hit lefties to the tune of a .281/.333/.437 line in 78 games with four doubles, two triples and six home runs for a .770 OPS. And as a pinch hitter, Jackson was 2-for-13 with three walks and four strikeouts.
At this point in his career, teams view Austin Jackson as a backup outfielder. Jackson showed last year in limited time with the Cubs that he can play all three outfield spots off the bench and in spot starts. Jackson played more right field (22) than center (8) or left field (4) for the Cubs.
Jackson is only 29 years old, can swipe a base as he showed in the Cardinals series and owns a career slash line of .261/.336/.393 against left handed pitching.
While the Cubs are not out on Dexter Fowler based on the various reports, if the Cubs add another outfielder in Spring Training, a player like Austin Jackson in camp on a minor league contract would seem to be the route the front office will take.