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.