- Associated Press - Monday, January 22, 2018

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Center fielder Austin Jackson agreed to a $6 million, two-year contract with the San Francisco Giants on Monday, filling the club’s top remaining void just a few weeks before pitchers and catchers report to spring training.

San Francisco announced the acquisition Monday, a week after the Giants traded for right fielder Andrew McCutchen.

Jackson will earn $3 million per season, and has $1 million in escalators in 2019 plus $1.5 million in performance bonuses for the second year. The deal increased the Giants‘ projected 2018 luxury tax payroll to about $195 million - just $2 million below the threshold - and the bonus structure pushed additional money into the deal’s second year.

His 2019 salary would increase by $250,000 each for 300, 325, 350 and 375 plate appearances this year, and he could earn $250,000 apiece in 2020 for 300, 325, 350, 375, 450 and 475.

San Francisco finished a surprising last in the NL West in 2017 and was seeking an offense-producing center fielder who also plays stellar defense. That was on display when Jackson robbed Boston’s Hanley Ramirez of a sure home run in August at Fenway Park, jumping high above the wall and flipping into the bullpen.

“He is a talented and versatile player who will strengthen our roster and provide additional depth at all three outfield positions,” general manager Bobby Evans said.

Jackson, who turns 31 on Feb. 1, batted .318 with seven homers, 19 doubles, three triples and 35 RBIs while limited to just 85 games because of injuries for Cleveland last season. His .352 average against left-handed pitchers ranked fourth in the American League.

Jackson went on the disabled list twice, first with a hyperextended big toe on his left foot then later a strained left quadriceps muscle.

He will join manager Bruce Bochy’s new-look lineup that includes McCutchen, acquired in a trade from Pittsburgh last week to replace the departed Denard Span. Span was traded to Tampa Bay last month in a swap that brought new third baseman Evan Longoria to the Giants.

With McCutchen and Jackson now in the fold, Bochy spoke to Hunter Pence about a move from right field to left - setting the starting outfield with a veteran threesome. Jackson gives the Giants versatility considering he plays all the outfield spots: He made 38 starts in center last year, 29 in left and 12 in right.

FanRag Sports first reported Jackson’s deal.

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For more AP baseball coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball

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