Austin Jackson to White Sox: Latest Contract Details, Comments and Reaction

Mike NorrisFeatured ColumnistMarch 6, 2016

CINCINNATI, OH - OCTOBER 1: Austin Jackson #27 of the Chicago Cubs bats against the Cincinnati Reds during a game at Great American Ball Park on October 1, 2015 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Cubs defeated the Reds 5-3. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Free-agent center fielder Austin Jackson signed a one-year contract on Sunday with the Chicago White Sox, confirmed MLB Roster Moves on Twitter.  

Jon Heyman of the MLB Network reported the deal is for $5 million. 

Jackson, 29, spent the first half of 2015 with the Seattle Mariners before being traded to the Chicago Cubs. He hit .267/.311/.385 with nine home runs and 48 RBI in 136 games.

He won't bring power to the White Sox, but he will make up for that with a good glove in the outfield and above-average speed. He hit at least 10 triples in each of his first three seasons, leading the league twice. He's also been successful on 106 of his 146 career stolen-base attempts.

The White Sox were 24th in MLB in both stolen bases and fielding percentage last season, while last year's starting center fielder, Adam Eaton, was among the worst in baseball with a minus-1.1 defensive WAR, per

Dan Szymborski of ESPN thinks Chicago made a good move by bringing in the center fielder:

Jackson broke into the league in 2010 with the Detroit Tigers and finished second in the American League Rookie of the Year voting behind Neftali Feliz. He was traded to the Mariners in 2014 before eventually joining the Cubs.

His average has dropped the past three years, as he has averaged .265 since 2013 after hitting .280 his first three seasons. Per Mike Axisa of, Jackson has become a liability against right-handed pitchers, but it's not time to give up on him:

At this point there's no real reason to play Jackson against right-handed pitchers. They've chewed him up for years. Jackson has managed to hit .290/.345/.408 (113 OPS+) against lefties the last two seasons though, so he remains a viable platoon bat. Plus he still plays outstanding defense.

Jackson is still only 28 years [old], so he's in what should be the prime years of his career. If nothing else, his defense and ability to hit lefties make him a quality fourth outfielder. He's still young enough that he could get his career back on track and return to being an everyday player as well.

Jackson became expendable in Chicago after the Cubs signed free-agent outfielder Jason Heyward, who was with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2015.

Maybe a fresh start with the White Sox will help Jackson get back on track. He proved early in his career he can be consistent for a full season, and if that's the case in 2016, this could turn out to be one baseball's better offseason deals.