Chicago Cubs acquire Austin Jackson from Seattle Mariners
By Jake Misener
The Chicago Cubs added one final piece for the stretch run Monday, trading for Seattle Mariners outfielder Austin Jackson.
Jackson, 28, is batting .272/.312/.387 this year with the Mariners, adding 15 steals and 18 doubles in the process. He’s been known as a solid defensive option over the course of his career, as well – making him even more valuable.
Chicago has to drum up $1 million of the money owed to Jackson for the rest of the season, with Seattle picking up just under a half-million dollars, while also netting a PTBNL and a $211,1000 international signing slot.
During his six seasons in the big leagues, he’s fielded his position at exactly league average (.990 fielding percentage), improving drastically from 2014 to 2015 – his first full season with Seattle.
The speedy veteran will give the Cubs much-needed depth in the outfield, where Jorge Soler and Dexter Fowler have both battled injuries at times this season.
Soler could very well miss the rest of the month as he works his way back from the disabled list, but a piece like Jackson plays well with a combination of Fowler, Kyle Schwarber, Chris Coghlan and Chris Denorfia.
We’ve also seen Kris Bryant get a handful of reps in the outfield, perhaps in anticipation of the impending September call-up of Javier Baez, who has spent his entire career in the infield. With Addison Russell at shortstop and a combo of Coghlan and Starlin Castro at second, it makes sense that Baez could see time at the hot corner.
Jackson, meanwhile, has shown a strong ability to adapt at the plate over the past half-decade. After striking out 170 and 181 times, respectively, during his first two big league campaigns, he’s never punched out more than 144 times since then – even posting an .856 OPS back in 2012 with the Detroit Tigers.
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The former eighth-round pick is set to test free agency at the end of the 2015 campaign, and could be a part of the Cubs’ long-term plans. That, in my mind, depends on whether or not the club brings Fowler back.
Should the veteran Fowler walk, Jackson could pair with a stopgap measure until either Albert Almora or Billy McKinney are ready for the big leagues. That’s an entirely different topic altogether, though.
In a corresponding roster move, the club designated former Texas Rangers top prospect Mike Olt for assignment. He’s never really panned out (as we all know by this point) – and given the lack of opportunity in the Chicago Cubs’ infield moving forward, it’s not too difficult to put two and two together.
Olt is batting .273/.346/.477 this season with Triple-A Iowa, with whom he’s hit nine homers in just 59 games. It’s not hard to imagine a team taking a flyer on him with hopes of allowing him to resurrect his once-promising career.