The Giants have filled their biggest remaining void by signing Austin Jackson to play centerfield. The eight-year veteran reportedly inked a two-year, $6 million deal, as first reported by Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, with incentives potentially adding another $2.5 million to the deal, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.
In 85 games with the Indians last season, Jackson slashed .318/.387/.869 while totaling seven home runs and 35 RBIs. He missed substantial time last season with a strained quadriceps? and toe injury.
The Giants made waves earlier this offseason by acquiring both Evan Longoria and Andrew McCutchen, shipping last year's centerfielder, Denard Span, to Tampa Bay in the process. Manager Bruce Bochy confirmed McCutchen would play rightfield, shifting veteran Hunter Pence over to left for the first time in his career. With the Jackson signing, San Francisco's outfield revamp is complete.
The Giants fielded an atrocious defensive outfield last year between Span, Pence, and a rotating cast to play leftfield and fill in for the two veterans. Even if the aging Jackson and McCutchen aren't massive upgrades, they're a notch above San Francisco's 2017 standard.
Barring an outstanding spring training from outfield prospect Steven Duggar, Jackson should shoulder most of the work in centerfield this season. It's certainly possible Duggar makes the team out of spring, but Jackson fortifies the Giants' options if they don't feel inclined to rush the 24-year-old out of the minors.
Most importantly for San Francisco, Jackson's reported deal should keep the team under the Competitive Balance Tax, Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area notes. That would reset the Giants' payroll penalties and potentially allow the team to more flexibly spend on next offseason's rich free agent class.