The San Diego Padres have some money to spend this offseason but have yet to invest anything for the 2016 team. The team will most likely look for undervalued players in an attempt to get great value for a potential player. There are needs in the outfield for the team and plenty of names out there.
An intriguing possibility is Austin Jackson. The six-year veteran has played for three different teams and has a batting line of .273/.333/.399 in his 3,392 at bats. Jackson is coming off a down year last year where he split the year between with the Mariners and the Cubs. Jackson hit .267 with nine home runs and 48 RBIs while stealing 17 bases in 136 games. The line drive hitter just never got in a groove hitting .250 in the months of April and May.
He is a capable defender in center field and is still only 28-year-old. Jackson had a great year in 2012 when he had a slash line of .300/.377/.479 with 16 homers and 66 RBIs for the Tigers. He seemed poised to be a perennial all-star but has digressed a bit due to some lingering injuries. He has above average speed but is not a huge base running threat. Jackson did steal 17 bases last season, but he was caught 10 times also.
He has the distinction of being involved in two different three-team trades in his career. Jackson was drafted in the eighth round by the New York Yankees in 2005. He was traded in 2009 to the Detroit Tigers with Phil Coke, Max Scherzer and Daniel Schlereth. The Yankee received Curtis Granderson and the Arizona Diamondbacks received Edwin Jackson and Ian Kennedy. A whopping seven player, three-team deal.
Five years later Jackson was dealt to the Seattle Mariners in a three-team deal. The Detroit Tigers landed David Price and the Tampa Bay Rays got Nick Franklin, Willy Adams and Drew Smyly. Jackson never played well in Seattle and was moved to the Chicago Cubs for a PTBNL just before the August waiver deadline in 2015.
The outfielder is still relatively young and still fairly productive. He has Scott Boras as an agent, so he will be expecting top dollar on the open market. That alone might take the Padres out of the running. Jackson is a nice player, but he does have some issues. He is not a true leadoff hitter, he strikes out a ton and rarely takes ball four only walking 29 times in 491 at bats last season. His speed is above average but you have to figure his legs will slow down eventually and Jackson isn’t a speed burner in the first place.
His numbers were down last season a bit, but he did have a batting average of .283 and an OPS of .745 in the second half of the season. He could be trending in the right direction and could be had at a reasonable price.
Austin Jackson made $7.7 million last year and with Boras as his agent will be surely looking for a multiple year contract. Being that he had a down year, his management team would surely be happy with a two-year deal with hopes he can have two excellent seasons and cash in after the 2017 season. With that being said it will take at least $15-18 million for a couple of seasons to lock him up. That seems like a very wise investment but the club is already heavily invested in Melvin Upton Jr. for the next two seasons. If the team were able to move Upton, then Jackson would seem even more of a prize. That is a big if though. Moving Upton Jr. is a nearly impossible task.
The Padres could view Jackson as a decent option for the team until Manuel Margot is ready for big league action. With Boras as his agent, the likelihood of the two sides coming to agreement is really slim. The Padres would have to move some salary first and moving Upton’s salary would be vital for a potential deal to get done. The addition of Jackson could help the Padres, but they already have Travis Jankowski, Melvin Upton Jr.and Jon Jay who are all capable of playing center field. The team has a more pressing issue like finding a shortstop for the 2016 season. Austin Jackson would be nice but is probably not a reality for the Friars. Well at least not at the moment.