The San Francisco Giants continued their great offseason yesterday by acquiring outfielder Austin Jackson, per Jon Heyman. Jackson inked a two-year pact worth $6 million plus performance bonuses, which could raise the $6 million contract to $8.5 million. The deal has already been finalized, as Jackson passed his physical, per Ken Rosenthal.
Austin Jackson signs with the Giants
With the Giants acquiring Andrew McCutchen and Jackson to play in the outfield, San Francisco has upgraded their struggling outfield. There was no starter in right field and that position was essentially run on a “by committee” basis. Jarrett Parker and Gorkys Hernandez shared time in right and survived last year with a combined two DRS. The Giants have solved this by putting McCutchen in right. He’s played center field most of his career, but is an asset in right as he finished with a two DRS last season. Denard Span, who was traded over to Tampa Bay for Evan Longoria, came off a terrible defensive year. He ended last year with a -27 DRS. Jackson, who will take over in center field, isn’t the same defender that saved 26 runs in center in 2011, but he can still play solid defense; he ended last season with a -2 DRS.
Jackson brings a right-handed bat that sees both righty and lefty pitchers very well. Last season, he batted .352 with four home runs, 15 RBI, and 19 walks off of southpaws. Jackson also hit right-handers well, batting .291 with three homers, 20 RBI, and 14 walks. With Jackson projected to bat 8th in the lineup, his ability to get on base against both handed pitchers will be key at the bottom of the order.
Jackson, who is set to turn 31 next month, played for the Cleveland Indians last season. He hit .318/.387/.482 (126 OPS+) with seven home runs in 318 plate appearances. This was Jackson’s strongest offensive season in several years. Since 2014-16, he’s batted .260/.311/.361 (89 OPS+) with 13 home runs in nearly 1,400 plate appearances.
With San Francisco signing Austin Jackson, they have now bowed out of the running for Lorenzo Cain. The Giants have been linked to Cain even after they acquired McCutchen, but Giants brass has stated that they are set on staying below the $197 million luxury tax cap.
The Giants are coming off a 96-loss season, but San Francisco has done a great job filling their needs with veteran talent. They’ve traded away their shallow farm system to retool and compete for the next couple of years, and acquiring former All-Stars in Longoria and McCutchen is certainly the way to go. As long as both Longo and McCutchen continue to provide solid production like they did last season, this retool should be successful. The acquisition of Jackson alone doesn’t put the Giants over the hump to be Wild Card favorites, but perhaps adding an arm in their bullpen will put them even closer to getting back into the postseason.