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MLB rumors: Cleveland Indians pursuing Austin Jackson

(No one tell the Indians they've already spent $20 million this offseason.)

Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

The Indians are reportedly considering the idea of signing outfielder Austin Jackson, one of the top free agents still available. This comes from Jon Heyman, who mentions the White Sox, Angels, Rangers, and Brewers as other interested teams.

No potential contract terms are mentioned. Early in the offseason, various predictions I saw had Jackson signing for anywhere from one to three years, for $10-12 million per season. (There is no draft pick loss attached to signing Jackson.) Given that no market has really developed for Jackson's services, I have to think he's available for something on the low end of those options. A one-year deal for $10 million could be a possibility, and perhaps even a little less than that.

Jackson, a 28-year-old, right-handed hitter, is a pretty good center fielder, but nowhere near as good as the defensive wiz you might be thinking of from 4 or 5 years ago. His offense has also declined a bit the last couple years to roughly league-average for an outfielder. He split time between the Mariners and Cubs last season, posting a combined batting line of .267/.311/.385, with 9 home runs, 17 stolen bases, and a wRC+ of 94. $10 million for a slightly above-average player isn't a bad deal, and I do think Jackson would be an upgrade over Abraham Almonte and Rajai Davis as an outfield option. I'm not sure he looks like a big enough upgrade over them to justify spending what I would expect to be just about the last available funds for this season.

Coming on the heels of the Tribe signing Juan Uribe, adding Jackson would put them close to $90 million in 2016 payroll (and that's if you DON'T count the $10 million the team is paying towards Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn's contracts), which would put them above their 2015 figure and is a level they haven't reached since 2001, the final season of the glory days. I like the idea of ownership being willing to do that, and I'd rather have Jackson for $10 million than Davis for $5 million, but I'm not sure if having them both makes all that much sense.