GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The White Sox made a nice addition with Austin Jackson on the way, a former teammate said Sunday.
The veteran outfielder has agreed to a one-year, $5-million deal with the White Sox, the team announced. The club designated Mike Olt for assignment to make room for Jackson on the 40-man roster. Jon Heyman first reported the signing.
Jackson, who finished last season with the Cubs, has the ability to play all three outfield spots, including an excellent center field, according to White Sox catcher Alex Avila. The two played together with the Detroit Tigers from 2010-14.
“He’s a good player,” Avila said. “He’s a very good center fielder, covers a lot of ground. He’s the type of center fielder that you never see him dive because he’s getting to them.
“He’s just a really, really great athlete. There’s a lot of options for him as far as being able to run the ball down, play the outfield.”
Jackson’s signing adds more depth to a thin roster. He produced 2.3 Wins Above Replacement last season for the Seattle Mariners and Cubs, according to fangraphs.com.
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With the expected offensive production of both Adam LaRoche and Avisail Garcia uncertain, Jackson gives White Sox manager Robin Ventura another option to mix into the lineup. Jackson also can spell Eaton in center and is a defensive upgrade over either Cabrera or Garcia in the corners. The move also comes at a time when Eaton is restricted to the designated hitter’s role because the team is being cautious with his throwing shoulder after he had nerve decompression surgery in October. Eaton said he 100 percent expects to be ready for Opening Day and Ventura said he wouldn’t be concerned unless its the final week of the spring and Eaton hadn’t returned to the field. Eaton has continued to throw in morning workouts and said he’s progressing nicely.
“Right now Herm’s not alarmed by it too much,” Ventura said after Sunday’s victory over the San Diego Padres. “I know Adam’s not, either. He’s feeling a lot better today than he was yesterday. Hopefully it’ll continue to improve, but I don’t see it as anything structural.”
Avila felt pretty good about the current roster before Jackson was added.
He signed a one-year contract with the White Sox in late November, well ahead of a series of other moves that has included trades for Todd Frazier and Brett Lawrie and the signings of Jimmy Rollins, Mat Latos, Matt Albers and Dioner Navarro.
“Obviously, you could tell the front office has been busy trying to put together a group of guys that they feel is going to win some of those extra balls games, get you to that mark where you need to get to get to the playoffs,” Avila said. “ It’s exciting for players. For players, you should be excited about that because you know you’ve got a backing there from the top as far as we’re committed to win. Now it’s our job to be able to go out there and perform and win and get those W’s. That’ll be a long process over the course of the season. But as a player, it’s exciting when you’re on a team that is committing itself to wanting to win. There’s nothing more you can ask for.”