Mariners Rumors: Austin Jackson Drawing Trade Interest

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Austin Jackson has officially cleared trade waivers, and is now eligible to be shipped anywhere in the league prior to the August 31 deadline. Jon Morosi of Fox Sports tweeted the news on Monday night, adding that several teams are reportedly showing interested in the 28-year-old center fielder.

The Seattle Mariners acquired Austin Jackson on deadline day last season as part of the three team deal that saw David Price land in the Motor City. Jackson is making $7.7 million in his final year of arbitration before becoming a free agent at seasons end. MLB Trade Rumors reports that roughly $1.725 million remains on his contract. Obviously, The M’s are out of playoff contention this season. I’m sure they would rather get something for the veteran outfielder rather than allow him to walk for nothing this winter.

MLB Daily Dish suggests that the San Francisco Giants could be a potential dance partner for the Seattle Mariners. The Giants traded for Marlon Byrd on August 20, but some insiders believe they are still searching for more outfield help. Jackson’s splits are remarkably even, and thus he could be a starting center fielder or a very valuable fourth outfielder for a contending team. I think clubs like the Giants, Texas Rangers and the Chicago Cubs could all show varying degrees of interest.

Jun 5, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Mariners center fielder Austin Jackson (16) hits a triple in the ninth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Safeco Field. The Rays beat the Mariners 1-0. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

Jackson was a .277 hitter across parts of five seasons in Detroit, but he has struggled to replicate those numbers since joining the Mariners last summer. AJ is hitting .248 with 7 home runs and 48 RBI in 155 games with Seattle. His on base percentage with the tigers was .342, but he has registered a disappointing .289 OBP for the M’s. A-Jax slugged .413 across nearly 3000 at bats with Detroit, but that number has dropped to .327 during his time in the Emerald City. However, He has done a nice job on the base paths, tallying 26 steals in a Mariners’ uniform.

It is hard to explain why Austin Jackson’s numbers have dropped off so dramatically. He has spent the majority of his time hitting leadoff with Seattle, which was typically a great spot for him with the Tigers. Safeco Field is notoriously unfriendly to hitters, but Jackson has actually posted better numbers at home during his time with the M’s.

2015 has been a more productive season for Jackson, but he is still nowhere close to his career averages. The Denton, TX product is hitting .259 with 7 home runs, 34 RBI and 15 stolen bases over the course of 101 games this season. Jackson has struck out 103 times and nursed 24 walks in 427 plate appearances.

Jackson is a solid defender, and that facet of his game has been very valuable to the Mariners. AJ has registered 0.6 defensive wins above replacement with the M’s. He has a .989 fielding percentage in 2015, and has registered a 2.77 range factor per 9 innings. He grades out as an above average center fielder, and that alone should be attractive to contending teams.

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It’s worth noting that there currently is not an obvious choice on the roster to fill the void if Jackson is moved. Brad Miller has played well in left and right field this season, and he has been practicing a lot in center field recently. Crazy Legs has only played 1 game in center field, but I believe he will get the first crack at the job. Ketel Marte was in the process of transitioning to the outfield before being promoted to the M’s, but I think he is cementing himself as the club’s everyday shortstop right now. James Jones is injured, but he is close to returning to action and would make an intruding option to be recalled in September.

I fully expect Jack Zduriencik to trade Austin Jackson prior to the next week’s deadline. Jackson is not expected to be retained by Seattle this offseason, and I think they would be happy to get a decent prospect or two in return. I have always liked AJ, but I believe it would be best for both parties to go their separate ways.

Next: Mariners Game Recap: Oakland A's Fight Back to Take Opener

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