Austin Jackson won’t mean end of flexible lineup

SHARE Austin Jackson won’t mean end of flexible lineup
SHARE Austin Jackson won’t mean end of flexible lineup

Just because the Cubs acquired outfielder Austin Jackson from the Seattle Mariners doesn’t mean the lineup mixing and matching is done. Far from it.

Before Monday’s game against the Cincinnati Reds, the Cubs acquired Jackson and cash from Seattle for an international signing bonus slot and a player to be named later. Jackson, 28, was batting .272 with eight home runs, 38 RBIs and 15 stolen bases.

To make room on the 40-man roster, Mike Olt was designated for assignment.

A pending free agent, Jackson figures to help the Cubs weather the loss of Jorge Soler and provide some good outfield defense, an area that was exposed during last week’s trip in California.

“Austin Jackson, I’ve seen him for a long time in the American League,” manager Joe Maddon said. “He’s a really good player. When he starts swinging the bat well he’s very productive. A fine outfielder, good baserunner, stolen bases. Kind of a complete player, so to be able to pick him up right now I think we’re very fortunate.”

A center fielder his entire career, Jackson will give Maddon another option as he continues to jumble the Cubs lineup. And if other things come up, Jackson will provide more cover.

“The depth component also. You never know what’s going to happen during the course of the next month if somebody were to get hurt again,” Maddon said. “All of a sudden you’re really backs against the wall, so we just thought… talked to Theo (Epstein) about it today, went back and forth about all the reasons why you’d do something like that and we felt good about it.”

On Monday, Kris Bryant made his second start in right field. Doing things like that, along with the versatility of Chris Coghlan, has given Maddon options to tinker. And that won’t cease with Jackson, or whoever else comes up when rosters expand Tuesday.

“All that stuff really permits you to utilize more players offensively. But you don’t want to negatively impact your defense either,” Maddon said. “So when you put KB in the outfield, I don’t think there’s anything negative about that at all.”

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