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Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Giants sign Austin Jackson to complete outfield

No, he's not an earth shattering talent, but on Monday the Giants finally found the guy they expect to be their everyday center fielder, at least to start 2018, and that is veteran Austin Jackson.

 The Giants signed the soon-to-be 31 year old to a 2 year deal worth $6M guaranteed but has clauses in it that could bring the total value up around $8.5M. The deal doesn't come as a shock to me whatsoever, as the Giants made it clear after the McCutchen trade last week that they were still in on center fielders and that McCutchen would in fact move into right field to improve the outfield defense as a whole. I talked in our last post about how Jackson really has the best bat/glove combo out of the handful of center fielders the team was looking at. That group included Cameron Maybin, John Jay and Jarrod Dyson but none of those guys present the offensive upside that Jackson does. However, of the bunch, Jackson is at the bottom of the list in terms of defensive rating in center field. He's basically a league average defender there, which is a big improvement over Denard Span from a year ago, plus the arrival of Cutch in right and moving Pence over to left should result in a much better defensive lineup in the outfield than fans were forced to watch the last couple of seasons. 

What got him signed though, in my opinion, is his bat. Although he was injured for much of 2017, he appeared in 88 games, hit well over .300 and sported an OPS of .869, which would have led the Giants a year ago. It's still unclear on where exactly he'll slot into the lineup though. The logical choice would be to have him leadoff, but I saw a lineup posted today on one outlet that has Joe Panik sliding into the leadoff spot and Jackson down in the 8th spot. Wherever he hits, he is expected to be out there on opening day, as the signing leaves the Giants with maybe a million or so dollars left over to possibly throw at a veteran starting pitcher or reliever.


Right now, they have Chris Stratton and Ty Blach penciled in as their 4th and 5th starters, but they may want to at least add some competition into that mix. Stratton looked strong, but Blach was pretty abysmal last season, especially in the second half, so banking on him as the fifth man may be asking a lot. Their payroll situation though doesn't allow them much breathing room and the most they could possibly offer someone at this point would be about $1M/season without going over the CBT. This is an area they probably will just wait out though and see what veteran arms are still looking for work after spring training kicks off next month and hopefully they can bring in someone halfway decent to lock down the fifth spot so Blach isn't forced into big innings. Jeremy Hellickson, Jaime Garcia or possibly R.A. Dickey may find themselves in that category looking for work when camps start up, but who knows if those guys would take the 1 year, $1M deal? I think all three would be interesting candidates to battle it out with Blach and Stratton for the two spots and create some real competition rather than forcing guys into the rotation because they simply have no other options.

So, assuming this is the last move the Giants will make this offseason, do you think they've done enough to turn a 98-loss team into contenders in 2018? I think the answer is yes, although how serious of contenders will depend on how their returning guys like Pence, Cueto, Belt and Crawford perform after a lackluster 2017. I'll tell you this though, I'm excited about spring training starting and I look forward to seeing what this squad does once the bell rings on opening day. The Giants haven't had this much turnover to their starting lineup within the last decade so it's going to be interesting to see how things click. I think the quality of players they've brought in though, both on the field and off, should have everyone feeling a little optimistic. After missing out on Giancarlo Stanton, they essentially turned that into Andrew McCutchen, Evan Longoria and Austin Jackson. If those three play like they can and like the Giants expect, then they'll be much better off having missed out on the reigning NL MVP!

Anyway, since people are throwing out their projected lineups now that the team appears to be done adding, I'll go ahead and put my two cents in on how I think they should at least start the season. We know Bochy will make changes throughout and guys will get hurt, but this is what I expect to trot out there on opening day:

CF Jackson
2B Panik
RF McCutchen
C Posey
3B Longoria
1B Belt
LF Pence
SS Crawford
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3 Comments:

  • At 12:55 AM, Anonymous Jason Billingsley said…

    Hey i love this signing man, I really do. Like you said, Jackson was the best bat of the group of cf's they could actually afford, and he's better defender than I think a lot of ppl are giving him credit for. Did you guys see that catch he made last season in Boston? I love watching players that go balls to the wall like that and Jackson will be find in center field I think. Heck we've won with Angel Pagan in center and he was a worse defender than Jackson.

    I'm just getting a good vibe from the signing. The Giants weren't gonna get anyone better and still stay under the luxury tax line. They missed stanton but I'll take Longoria, Cutch and A-Jack for sure over just Stanton alone.

    Cheers to Bobby Evans, he done good this offseason and we avoided going over the tax line!

     
  • At 10:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I guess I'm pretty happy about the Giants offseason when it's all said and done. They made over the outfield and got a star thirbasemen so I'm good. Wish we coulda gotten a starter and another reliever but I guess maybe at the deadline?

     
  • At 6:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I just read Gregor Blacno's coming back? Wasn't he out of baseball last year? They couldn't find anyone better, really?

     

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