I like this move if you’re signing Jackson as a fourth outfielder, similar to what the Cubs did last year. However, if you’re signing him to play every day and potentially be your starting center fielder, that means you’re probably an average team. The latter seems to be true as Jackson reportedly turned down more money from the Angels because they already have a pretty decent center fielder.
Jackson is coming of a pretty average year both offensively and defensively. Surprisingly, despite his athleticism he actually doesn’t grade out well on defense as has only been above 1 on the dWAR scale twice in his career (his first two years). He reached as high as #36 on Baseball America’s prospect list after the 2008 season, but he’s never reached the ceiling many scouts thought was there. Oh and he strikes out…like A LOT. He’ll fit right in.
The Cubs added Jackson late in the year in 2015 to add some depth to the outfield and provide a defensive upgrade in later innings (an upgrade in this case meaning an average defender subbing in for a below-average defender like Kyle Schwarber). The key here is that Jackson wasn’t starting on a good team. If the Sox were a good team, Jackson would be a good platoon option. But given that he was confident enough to turn down more money from the Angels means he’s confident enough he’ll be starting on the south side.
All that being said, I actually don’t mind this signing. He’s fine as a player, he’s just not going to be the difference in winning the division and being a .500 team. This also might mean Avisail Garcia’s leash is getting shorter, which is a good thing. The quicker the team realizes he isn’t any good the better off the Sox will be. And that’s coming from a person who was extremely high on Garcia originally. Now I’m swallowing my pride because I honestly think he’s going to disappear soon like Dayan Viciedo did. Hopefully he can prove me wrong twice, but in the meantime I’ll take the average player as an upgrade.