2016 Fantasy Baseball: Chicago White Sox Sign Austin Jackson
The final big free agent position player came off the board on Sunday when the Chicago White Sox signed Austin Jackson to a one year, five million dollar contract. The signing completed a saga that lasted the entire offseason and well into Spring Training. Like with the other holdouts (Ian Desmond, Yovani Gallardo, and Dexter Fowler), there were a variety of factors involved that kept him on the market. The biggest problem for Jackson was that he and his agent were looking for way too much money and they wanted a guarantee that he would get to play everyday to build his value back.
Why the White Sox make this deal
The White Sox came into the offseason with several holes in their lineup. They methodically filled those one by one through trades and free agent signings. Unlike past offseasons, the White Sox practiced restraint because they did not want to surrender their first round pick or blow a hole through their budget. They brought in Todd Frazier on a deal with the Dodgers and Reds, they brought in Brett Lawrie through a trade with the Athletics, and they signed Jimmy Rollins to a minor league contract.
Outside of Adam Eaton, the White Sox outfield was awful last season. They aren’t likely to replace Melky Cabrera in left field because of his contract and there is a hope that he can regain the form he had in 2014 with the Blue Jays. That leaves Avisail Garcia in right field. Last season, he hit a paltry .257/.309/.365 and managed to earn a negative 11 runs according to the Fielding Bible in right field. He seems like the most likely candidate to be replaced if Jackson is going to find the lineup on a regular basis.
Jackson had a .696 OPS overall between the Mariners and the Cubs last season. That is slightly better than Avisail Garcia’s OPS and he has been neutral or better defensively in center field. He did gain some experience in right field last year in Chicago and the White Sox are surmising that he can be better than average in right field. The fact that he can play center field and left field is also helpful. Add him to the rest of the players the White Sox have added and you see they have an outside shot of competing for a playoff berth.
What this deal means for you
The fact that Jackson is likely to serve in a semi-regular role probably doesn’t inspire anyone to run out and draft him. Besides, .700 OPS outfielders aren’t exactly in demand. He has stolen ten or more bases in every season except for one and stolen more than 20 bases in three of those seasons. So, when you add in the fact that he has some decent speed with the fact that he will likely be eligible at all three outfield positions before the end of the season, then you see that he could be a decent addition to a fantasy team’s bench or could make it as a fourth or fifth outfielder in five outfielder leagues.