By Bruce Levine–
CHICAGO (CBS) — The Cubs made a move Monday that may help them secure their first playoff appearance in seven seasons. The team picked up veteran outfielder Austin Jackson and $500,000 in cash considerations from Seattle for international bonus slot money and a player to be named later.
Jackson, 28, a career .273 hitter, has played mostly center field in his six seasons in the major leagues. With Chicago, he will be a right fielder most of the time and a backup in center for Dexter Fowler. The Cubs realized how vulnerable they were when Fowler was hit in the hand by a pitch on Aug. 24 and missed three games. Last Wednesday in the second game of their series in San Francisco, both center fielder Chris Denorfia and right fielder Chris Coghlan were unable to get to balls that ended up being the game-changing difference in that contest.
Jackson has postseason experience, having played on three different playoff teams with Detroit. A .300 hitter since the All-Star break, Jackson has been on fire as of late, going 17-for-36 in his last 10 games. He also adds the element of more speed for manager Joe Maddon to make use of late in games and as a defensive replacement.
Both Jackson and Fowler are set to be free agents after the 2015 season. What the future holds for the Cubs in center field remains to be seen.
Either way, Maddon is thrilled to have a quality player at his disposal.
“I have seen Austin Jackson in the American league for a long time,” Maddon said shortly after the trade was announced. “He is a real good player and when he is swinging the bat well, he is very productive. A fine outfielder, good base runner, stolen bases — he’s kind of the complete player. To be able to pick him up right now, I think we’re very fortunate.”
Maddon said he and the front office said “Yes” to the trade Monday morning, because of the added depth and important game experience Jackson will now afford the team.
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.