5 MLB Teams That Should Pursue Edwin Jackson This Offseason
Jackson has been a solid, if unspectacular player for 10 years. He has a rocket arm and can toss a gem on any given night. He can handle a bat and can pinch run if called upon. Yet his talents have been undervalued by six different teams—possibly seven if the Washington Nationals decide not to re-sign him.
Yes, Jackson has played for seven teams in 10 years. It's been a strange decade for the 29-year-old. And while it may seem like his nomad status could point to his ineffectiveness as a consistent starter, that's simply not the case.
There are plenty of teams around baseball who could use Jackson's services as a back-end starter. He's not going to be a Cy Young candidate, but he is probably the only fourth or fifth starter in a given rotation that can throw a no-hitter on any night.
Simply put, there is a market for this budding star, and he'll hopefully find a place to settle down when he puts his pen to his next deal.
It's a little bit surprising that the Washington Nationals didn't give Jackson a qualifying offer after they were eliminated from the playoffs, but that doesn't mean that he won't return to D.C. Jackson has expressed interest, although he wants to consider offers from other teams as well.
It was an up and down, but ultimately successful season for Jackson in 2012. His 4.03 ERA is a bit misleading: On one of the best staffs in baseball, he didn't need to be an ace, and his numbers are inflated by a couple of very poor starts sandwiched between several generally excellent outings.
If Jackson were to come back to Washington, he would once again add heat to the rotation with the league's highest average fastball velocity. Jackson can hit 96 on the gun, and he showed the ability to pitch out of jams when the Nats needed it most.
Do the Nationals absolutely need Edwin Jackson? Probably not.
They have four superb starters entrenched in their roles and a fifth can be found rather easily. The question is, can they find someone better than Jackson to fill that fifth spot? That answer is a little more difficult, which is why it makes a lot of sense for Washington to give Jackson a look.
New York Yankees
The New York Yankees like to make a splash in free agency. Jackson isn't a big name, but he's probably just what New York needs.
We know the story with the Yanks. The expectation is a championship every season, and the direction of the team is in question following a listless and embarrassing four-game sweep at the hands of the Detroit Tigers in the playoffs.
Hitting was the issue in the postseason, but it's definitely not the issue in the long run. The Yankees have one of the best offenses in all of baseball. The pitching staff is a bigger question.
The numbers looked good for New York last year—a 3.85 overall ERA and solid performances all around. But there's just too much inconsistency, especially at the back end with Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova. Those are guys whose career wins are benefited more by run support than anything else.
Jackson could be the piece who pushes the Yankees over the top. New York proved in the playoffs that it couldn't overcome being a one-dimensional team. When the offense was down, the pitching failed in big spots. Jackson can be the difference for a New York team that is now facing stiff competition from the Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles as the top dogs in the A.L. East.
Toronto Blue Jays
When the Blue Jays made their huge trade with the Miami Marlins, the expectations in Toronto skyrocketed to an all-time high immediately. Finally, the Blue Jays are in contention for an elusive A.L. East title and have the chance to end the dominance by the Yankees and Red Sox.
Toronto secured excellent pitchers in Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle, but there are still question marks in the rotation. Brandon Morrow rounds out an excellent top three, but Ricky Romero and J.A. Happ were unmitigated disasters in 2012 and were the direct cause of several agonizing losses.
Jackson could step in and fill a need immediately. He would be hard pressed to pitch worse than either Romero or Happ did last year and could give the Blue Jays the top rotation in the division. Combine that with their superb offense, and you have a formula for a possible World Series contender.
Toronto may be the best option for Jackson (short of Washington). The Blue Jays are an up-and-coming team, and he won't be asked to do too much in a very good starting rotation. All he needs to do is hold up the back end, and the Blue Jays could be on their way to a magical run through October.
Do the Philadelphia Phillies need more pitching? Maybe not. But at this point, nothing is guaranteed.
Philly had a thoroughly disappointing campaign in 2012 but really got it going at the end, even challenging for a playoff spot despite being last in the N.L. East for most of the year. The primary reason for the comeback was the resurgence of the pitching staff. But that doesn't mean the rotation isn't an issue.
Cliff Lee is a year older and Roy Halladay, for the first time in his illustrious career, is a question mark in terms of how productive he can be. Jackson could step in and help immediately, providing stability behind Cole Hamels and presumably taking over the fifth spot in place of Kyle Kendrick.
The chances of Jackson landing in Philadelphia aren't superb, but there's no question that his experience could help the team and he could definitely prevent them from struggling at the beginning of the year. The Nationals and Atlanta Braves had great seasons in the N.L. East last year, but the Phillies still believe the division belongs to them. Jackson could play a huge role in restoring the team to its former glory.
The Texas Rangers are one of baseball's best offensive teams and even without Josh Hamilton, this team will still score loads of runs. The problem is keeping them off the board.
Texas had a solid pitching staff for most of the year, but it came apart at the end. Yu Darvish, Matt Harrison and Ryan Dempster are a good top three, but the back end is a mess. Derek Holland was terrible last year and Martin Perez was similarly terrible.
Jackson would fit perfectly in the No. 4 or 5 spot in Texas. The Rangers will score four or five runs a game and Jackson will give up three or four. Going to Texas could conceivably get him 10 to 12 wins or more. He won't have to be at his best and when he is, the Rangers could be impossible to beat.
Texas had a disappointing finish to 2012 but are undoubtedly looking to recharge for another run. If the Rangers sign Edwin Jackson, it could solve their pitching issues and eliminate a deficiency that really hurt them at the end of 2012.
Jackson also has playoff experience and could have a huge amount of value if the Rangers make it to October. It will be very interesting to see if Jackson can land in Texas, where he could make an immediate impact.