With the deadline for traded players to still have postseason eligibility just a few hours away, the Cubs made a move to shore up their outfield by acquiring Austin Jackson from the Mariners for a player to be named later and international bonus pool slot money. The Mariners will also send cash to the Cubs to help to cover Jackson's salary.
Jackson, 28, was a starter in center field for the Tigers between 2011 and 2013 when they made the playoffs in all three seasons and the World Series once. He was traded to the Mariners last July as part of the David Price deal. With Seattle this season, Jackson has played 107 games, all in center field. Jackson hits from the right-side and was hitting .272/.312/.387 in Seattle before the trade. He's stolen 15 bases in 24 attempts this year. Defensively, Jackson was considered to be a strong defender in center field in Detroit, although his defensive numbers have been down since going to Seattle.
For the Cubs, Jackson gives manager Joe Maddon some flexibility in the outfield and cover in the absence of Jorge Soler, whose return from an oblique strain remains uncertain. He could also provide an excellent platoon partner and late-inning defensive replacement for Kyle Schwarber. He also provides that elusive "playoff experience" which may or may not be of any importance.
Additionally, moving Fowler to right field and putting Jackson in center occasionally while Soler remains out would improve the Cubs outfield defense.
Maddon praise the pickup of Jackson, saying:
Maddon on newly acquired OF Austin Jackson: "Kind of a complete player "— Paul Sullivan (@PWSullivan) August 31, 2015
All in all, this is a great move that costs the Cubs close to nothing. While obviously we won't be able to judge the deal before knowing who the PTBNL is, it's unlikely to be anyone of much consequence. The international pool money simply means the Cubs will have to pay a bigger fine for going over the limit. Jackson is a free agent at the end of the year, so there is no long-term commitment if it doesn't work out.
With this move, the Cubs signaled that they're getting ready for the playoffs. You should too.