On Monday, the Giants reportedly agreed to a two-year contract with veteran center fielder Austin Jackson. The team has not yet confirmed the news.
Sources: Austin Jackson to giants. 6M, 2 Years. Elevators coukd take it to 8.5M.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) January 23, 2018
The Giants have said McCutchen will play right field with Hunter Pence sliding over to left, which means Jackson will man center field. Although he has lost a step from his peak, he remains a quality defender and is capable of manning AT&T Park's spacious outfield.
Jackson, 31 next month, spent last season with the Cleveland Indians, hitting .318/.387/.482 (126 OPS+) with seven home runs in 318 plate appearances. It was his best offensive season in several years; Jackson hit .260/.311/.361 (89 OPS+) with 13 home runs in nearly 1,400 plate appearances from 2014-16.
The Giants have been one of the most active teams in baseball this offseason, adding Evan Longoria in addition to Jackson and McCutchen. Manager Bruce Bochy's new batting line could look something like this:
- 2B Joe Panik
- RF Andrew McCutchen
- C Buster Posey
- 3B Evan Longoria
- 1B Brandon Belt
- LF Hunter Pence
- SS Brandon Crawford
- CF Austin Jackson
With Jackson signed, the Giants figure to be out of the running for free agent center fielder Lorenzo Cain. They had been connected to Cain for weeks and continued to be connected to him even after the McCutchen trade. The Giants are said to want to stay under the $197 million luxury tax threshold, however. Signing Cain would've made that impossible.
According to the projections at FanGraphs, the Giants were on the wild-card bubble before signing Jackson. Jackson alone won't push them into no doubt contender territory, but he helps.The team's outfielders hit .253/.311/.374 last season. That is unfathomable. Jackson and McCutchen both represent huge upgrades. Now San Francisco can use a little pitching.