San Francisco Giants general manager Bobby Evans said on Friday that landing a center fielder was the team’s top priority. He took care of that on Monday by adding Austin Jackson, according to Jon Heyman.
The defensive specialist will get $6 million for the next two seasons. He could make as much as $8.5 million through incentives.
Sources: Austin Jackson to giants. 6M, 2 Years. Elevators coukd take it to 8.5M.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) January 23, 2018
Last season, Jackson hit .318/.387/.482 for the Cleveland Indians. He was worth 1.9 wins above replacement, according to Baseball Reference.
Jackson was expected to get much more in the open market, but this has been a different kind of free agency period.
Austin Jackson was a two-win player last year. That’s worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $15M in value for one season. He got a total of $6M guaranteed for two seasons. The bottoming out of this market is staggering, and what’s scary is that this is just the beginning. https://t.co/5VTE4am20v
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 23, 2018
The Giants will get the kind of player they wanted: A veteran who can play solid defense every day but isn’t so good (or expensive) he’ll block Steven Duggar from making an impact on the major-league squad when he’s ready.
It could also open up opportunities for a platoon in center field if Jackson can stay hot against left-handed pitchers in 2018. Last season, he hit .325/.440/.574 in 141 plate appearances against southpaws. But fans should beware the small-sample-size bias in those statistics, because Jackson’s career numbers are much worse: He’s .267/.343/.404 over his career against lefties.
The majority of Jackson’s at-bats have come from the leadoff spot. Projected starting lineup for the Giants on Opening Day:
- Jackson, 8
- Joe Panik, 4
- Andrew McCutchen, 9
- Evan Longoria, 5
- Buster Posey, 2
- Brandon Belt, 3
- Brandon Crawford, 6
- Hunter Pence, 8
- Madison Bumgarner, 1