Why did Austin Jackson turn down multiple offers from other teams to sign a modest one-year, $5 million deal with the White Sox? He wanted to play center field and some of those other offers likely would have involved time as a corner outfielder.
General manager Rick Hahn told Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com:
Most of, if not all of, Austin’s time will come in center. Obviously, a high quality defensive player out there and a lot of his value comes from having him in that spot.
Very true, but also of note because Adam Eaton has been the White Sox’s starting center fielder for the past two seasons and was a finalist for the Gold Glove award in 2014. Eaton is also coming off shoulder surgery and apparently Hahn had already talked to him about the possibility of shifting to a corner spot if the White Sox acquired a superior center fielder, telling Hayes:
As I talked about with Adam Eaton at the end of last season and a couple times over the offseason and once again this afternoon, we also view Adam as a very fine defensive center fielder. … Adam’s expressed a willingness to do whatever we feel makes the most sense on a given day to win a ballgame.
Chicago was pretty bad defensively in the outfield last season, but any alignment with Jackson in center field and Eaton in a corner spot is going to be very good and the White Sox will also mix and match Melky Cabrera and Avisail Garcia. They have a lot of quality depth, which could lead to reduced roles for Garcia or perhaps even Adam LaRoche.
MLBPA player representative Max Scherzer sent out a short statement late Wednesday night regarding the ongoing negotiations between the owners and the union. On Tuesday, ownership proposed a “sliding scale” salary structure on top of the prorated pay cuts the players already agreed to back in March. The union rejected the proposal, with many worrying that it would drive a wedge in the union’s constituency.
Scherzer is one of eight players on the MLBPA executive subcommittee along with Andrew Miller, Daniel Murphy, Elvis Andrus, Cory Gearrin, Chris Iannetta, James Paxton, and Collin McHugh.
After discussing the latest developments with the rest of the players there’s no reason to engage with MLB in any further compensation reductions. We have previously negotiated a pay cut in the version of prorated salaries, and there’s no justification to accept a 2nd pay cut based upon the current information the union has received. I’m glad to hear other players voicing the same viewpoint and believe MLB’s economic strategy would completely change if all documentation were to become public information.
Indeed, aside from the Braves, every other teams’ books are closed, so there has been no way to fact-check any of the owners’ claims. Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts, for example, recently said that 70 percent of the Cubs’ revenues come from “gameday operations” (ticket sales, concessions, etc.). But it went unsubstantiated because the Cubs’ books are closed. The league has only acknowledged some of the union’s many requests for documentation. Without supporting evidence, Ricketts’ claim, like countless others from team executives, can only be taken as an attempt to manipulate public sentiment.
Early Thursday morning, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported that the MLBPA plans to offer a counter-proposal to MLB in which the union would suggest a season of more than 100 games and fully guaranteed prorated salaries. It seems like the two sides are quite far apart, so it may take longer than expected for them to reach an agreement.