The Chicago White Sox have been swinging and missing all offseason long, chasing outfielders. They finally got something by signing Austin Jackson, despite offering the centerfielder less money than the Los Angeles Angels.
It’s something of a theme this season with the city of Chicago and getting players to stick around despite offering less than others, although it usually means the Chicago Cubs, signing Jason Heyward and Ben Zobrist for less money than they had offered to them by others. Jackson signed a one-year, $5 million deal, which is a far less than what would have been expected of him to sign a year ago or at the beginning of this offseason, but the way the outfield free agent market developed left him on the losing side financially.
So if he was losing money, why not go to the Angels, who reportedly offered him more than $6 million a week ago, an offer he rejected? Jackson wanted to stay in Chicago. He played for the Cubs in 2015 after being traded midseason from the Seattle Mariners. The Cubs ended up signing Dexter Fowler, bringing him back to the team after he was on the verge of signing for the Baltimore Orioles. Jackson might not have been the first or third choice for the White Sox at the position, but for the money they signed him, it seems like something of a steal.
The White Sox courted Fowler and also Alex Gordon, who both remained with the Cubs and Royals respectively. They had their sights set on other outfielders, but usually were priced out of signing them. Being unable to dump-trade Adam LaRoche and generate some money to spend on a new player held them back from seriously competing for guys like Yoenis Cespedes and Justin Upton, who were the expensive outfield signings after the Cubs landed Heyward.
Jackson, 29, is back in a division he knows well. He played for the Detroit Tigers from 2010 to part of 2014 before getting traded to the Seattle Mariners. Not much of a power hitter (only 55 home runs in six seasons with .399 slugging), Jackson is probably a better defender than Adam Eaton. This might mean Eaton gets moved to the corner, or Jackson becomes one of the corner outfielders, and fills in at centerfield when Eaton isn’t playing. In 2015, Jackson played 136 times, batting .267 with a .311/.385/.696 slash, hitting nine home runs with 48 RBIs.