Chicago Cubs: Could Austin Jackson make a return?


The Chicago Cubs have been mentioned in regards to several outfielders, including last year’s late addition Austin Jackson. Would it be worth bringing him back in 2016?

Austin Jackson was acquired by the  Chicago Cubs right at the end of August, and he served as a dynamite backup outfielder, but since free agency started, the Cubs really haven’t been tied to him, but, he would be a great guy to bring back as a fourth outfielder, but, should the Cubs bring him back at this point?

Currently on the Cubs roster, Kyle Schwarber, Jason Heyward, and Jorge Soler are the starting outfielders, with Chris Coghlan serving as the fourth outfielder.  Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, and Ben Zobrist can also play in the outfield–so there is depth there–but Bryant and Zobrist will spend a majority of their time in the infield.  Jackson would be a great add strictly from a depth standpoint.  In his career, Jackson has a .333 OBP, so he gets on base at a good rate.

Now, of course, if this is the Austin Jackson from Detroit, then you jump on signing him, but since his career season in 2012, he has taken a step back every year.  Since 2012, his home run totals have been 16, 12, nine and seven.  He scored a career-high 103 runs in 2012, and since then hasn’t scored 100. Jackson is clearly on a decline, which is alarming since he is just entering his prime years, still only 28.

Jackson’s defense has gone down as well.  In 2011, he had 29 DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) which is a fairly impressive number. However, since that season, the most he’s had is five.  In fact, in 2015, he had -1 DRS, so this begs the question…was it the trade to Seattle and playing a spacious center field, or was 2011 an outlier in terms of defense? Who knows, but, it certainly wouldn’t hurt for a team to try and take him on as a reclamation project.

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During his time with the Cubs, Jackson hit at a .236/.304/.375 clip, not to overly impressive, but, then again, that’s only in a 72 at-bat sample.  Jackson did see a little over four pitches per plate appearance, however, so that’s good, part of what you want from a backup is to see pitches and have good at-bats.  If the defense can get straightened out, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to bring him back on a one-year contract.