Cubs outfielder Brett Jackson ranked among Baseball America‘s top 100 prospects in 2010, 2011, and 2012, but the big knock against him was a very high strikeout rate and questions about whether he’d be able to hit for a decent batting average in the majors.
This year Jackson showed very good power at Triple-A, but hit just .256 with 158 strikeouts in 106 games and then struggled mightily with the Cubs, whiffing in 59 of his 120 at-bats.
Carrie Muskat of MLB.com reports that Jackson “has completely overhauled his swing” this offseason in an effort to cut down on the strikeouts, working with manager Dale Sveum and various Cubs coaches.
“I think he’s got a good base to work with going into the rest of the winter and going into spring training to understand the art of hitting, so to speak,” Sveum told Muskat. “Sometimes it gets lost and taught the wrong way.”
Obviously if Jackson can cut down on his strikeouts while not losing the other skills that made him a top prospect in the first place that would be great for the Cubs, but it’ll be interesting to see if having a 23-year-old “overhaul” his swing leads to unintended changes that hurt him overall.
Confirming a report from Tuesday, the Diamondbacks officially signed right-hander Fernando Rodney to a one-year, $2.75 million contract on Friday. The 39-year-old stands to receive up to $4 million in incentives, per Jack MacGruder of FanRag Sports, with $250,000 kicking in when the veteran reaches 40, 50 and 60 appearances and $500,000 if he reaches 70.
Rodney came three games shy of the 70-appearance mark in 2016 during back-to-back stints with the Padres and Marlins. He put up a cumulative 3.44 ERA on the year, which effectively disguised the extreme split during his performances in San Diego and Miami. The Diamondbacks aren’t anywhere close to contending in 2017, but Rodney should stabilize the back end of their bullpen while providing Arizona GM Mike Hazen with a potential trade chip during next year’s deadline.
Hazen issued a statement following the signing:
With Fernando, we’re getting an established Major League closer and a veteran presence in the bullpen. It is helpful to have someone with his experience on the back end to slow the game down and get the final three outs.
The Cardinals have officially signed outfielder Dexter Fowler to a five-year, $82.5 million contract. Fowler will also get a full no-trade clause.
The Cardinals gave Fowler a bigger deal than many speculated he’d get, as some reports predicted he’d get something in the $52-72 million range. His skills, however — he’s a fantastic leadoff hitter who plays a premium defensive position — definitely earned him some major dough. Fowler hit .276/.393/.447 with 13 homers, 48 RBI and 13 steals over 125 games in 2016 for the World Series champion Cubs.
For the Cardinals, this will allow Matt Carpenter to move down to the middle of the batting order and will shift Randal Grichuk to left field. It also takes a prime piece from the Cardinals’ biggest rival. For their part, earlier this offseason the Cubs signed former Cardinal center fielder Jon Jay. So that’s fun.