Although Jed Hoyer recently confirmed that the Cubs are still monitoring the free agent market, no one is expecting a move of consequence at this point. Spring Training is here, other teams are still out there with bigger needs than the Cubs, and the crew this team has is talented, deep, and redundant (in a good way).
One area where the Cubs could still plausibly add and be noticeably improved is with a quality outfield defender, who can play all over, and who bats right-handed (to give the Cubs more late-inning match-up options). Although it’s still possible that Matt Szczur could be that guy, he hasn’t yet broken through in a way that makes you confident he’ll hit enough at the big league level. Even if he might, it still would be nice to have just a little more depth and competition.
The latest comes from Nick Cafardo, who reports that Jackson is “getting a few bites and could land with the Rangers or Cubs.”
It’s a pretty straightforward report that I read to mean Cafardo is hearing that the Rangers and Cubs, specifically, are interested in Jackson, but other teams could be involved, too. But, as I wrote last month when Jerry Crasnick connected the Cubs and Jackson, it’s hard to see the fit. No, not from the Cubs’ perspective – from their perspective, Jackson is a near perfect fit for the Cubs:
Instead, I’m speaking out of the fit from Jackson’s perspective. A career starter in the big leagues since 2010, the 29-year-old Jackson has had just one season – 2014 – with a WAR below 2.3, and three seasons worth at least 3.0. At his age and with his ability, that doesn’t sound like a guy who would have to settle for a bargain deal on a team looking to add a fifth outfielder. Assuming the Cubs hang on to Chris Coghlan, absent an injury to someone(s) in the outfield, it’s not clear that Jackson would even see a ton of playing time with the Cubs.
Yes, it would be fantastic to have him and be able to work him into the mix once or twice a week from the Cubs’ perspective, but there are many other teams out there that can probably offer him more regular playing time, which is probably of paramount importance to a 29-year-old who might have to take a one-year deal and try and score again next offseason.
I think it’s entirely possible that Jackson’s market is decently sized after all, but we won’t know for sure until his former teammate Dexter Fowler signs, opening things up a bit.
We’ll keep following Jackson’s story, then, and see if the Cubs come up with an embarrassment of riches on the positional side.