A’s GM Billy Beane set to exit winter meetings without an outfielder

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Billy Beane never sticks around until the end of the winter meetings, and this year won’t be any different, even though he could be looking at an outfield of Jermaine Mitchell, Jai Miller and Ryan Sweeney if the season started tomorrow.

MLB.com’s Jane Lee points out that Beane is leaving Dallas tonight without the A’s having made a move. Assistant GM David Forst will lead the way until the winter meetings conclude Thursday.

With Oakland’s entire starting outfield of Josh Willingham, Coco Crisp and David DeJesus having filed for free agency, the lone outfielders left on the team’s 40-man roster after Mitchell, Miller, Sweeney and Michael Taylor. Sweeney is the only one of the bunch to have done anything in the majors, and he’s struggled to establish himself as more than a fourth outfielder.

The A’s will seek outfield help in trade talks, but they’ll likely end up bargain hunting later this winter. J.D. Drew, Kosuke Fukudome, Ryan Ludwick and Mike Cameron are some of the veteran outfielders staring down paycuts this winter.

There is help on the way beyond 2012. Converted shortstop Grant Green and fellow former first-round pick Michael Choice rank among the team’s best prospects. Green could factor into the center field mix as next season progresses, and Choice might be an option come 2013.

Giants sign Austin Jackson to two-year, $6 million contract

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The Giants announced on Monday night the signing of outfielder Austin Jackson. According to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, it’s a two-year, $6 million deal with performance incentives that allow Jackson to earn up to an additional $2.5 million for a total of $8.5 million.

Jackson, who soon turns 31 years old, spent last season with the Indians. In 318 plate appearances, he hit .318/.387/.482 with seven home runs, 35 RBI, and 46 runs scored.

The Giants have been on the hunt for a center fielder and Jackson addresses that need relatively cheaply. Jackson will join Hunter Pence and newcomer Andrew McCutchen in the outfield.