Two of this offseason's notable losers in MLB have been the Chicago Cubs and Texas Rangers.
Neither team has been able to make the splashy additions their general managers were envisioning. Now, the two clubs reportedly find themselves in competition for the same player.
According to ESPN's Jim Bowden, the bidding for free-agent pitcher Edwin Jackson has come down to the Cubs and Rangers. The San Diego Padres were in the mix, but decided not to go to four years on a contract with the 29-year-old right-hander.
Four years does seem a bit much for a pitcher who, while undoubtedly talented, has bounced around the major leagues and back. When Jackson signs with either the Cubs or Rangers, he will have joined his eighth MLB team.
That practically makes him the Octavio Dotel (who's played for 13 teams) of starting pitchers. If I can skew older, Jackson is on his way to being this era's Mike Morgan, who pitched for 12 teams in his big league career.
Maybe that's the whole idea behind seeking a four-year contract. Jackson and agent Scott Boras don't want him to become the next Mike Morgan. Let the man have some stability and stay with a team for more than two years. Perhaps he can actually buy a home, instead of rent.
This will likely also be the one chance Jackson has to cash in on the free-agent market. He could conceivably sign another contract after this one, as he would be only 33 years old. But with 14 years in the major leagues by then, that could be enough for him.
Jackson is reportedly seeking a salary of $12 million to $13 million, according to what Cubs Den's John Arguello has heard. That would boost him up from the $11 million Jackson received this year from the Washington Nationals.
After being traded by the Dodgers, Rays, Tigers, Diamondbacks, White Sox and Cardinals, Jackson surely relishes another chance to choose where he plays.
But he is certainly facing two extremes when it comes to picking his new team. The Rangers should contend for the AL West title and a wild-card playoff spot next season. The Cubs will very likely finish last in the NL Central, now that the Houston Astros are moving to the American League.
Both teams kind of need an offseason win, however.
In early November, the Cubs got cold feet on a trade for Dan Haren due to concerns about the condition of his back and hip, as reported by CSN Chicago's David Kaplan. Just over a month later, the North Siders lost a bidding war to the Detroit Tigers for Anibal Sanchez.
But those are only two swings and misses. The Rangers have struck out on virtually every player general manager Jon Daniels has pursued this winter. At one point, a victorious offseason was in their grasp, with word that Zack Greinke was leaning toward Texas while a deal for Justin Upton was nearly in place.
However, those two transactions fell apart, as has every other move the Rangers have tried to make: Greinke signed with the Dodgers. The D-Backs got the shortstop they were seeking elsewhere and thus don't need to trade Upton anymore. Hamilton bolted for the Angels. And the Mets traded R.A. Dickey to the Blue Jays.
Daniels kind of needs a victory here, though Jackson isn't the No. 1 starter the Rangers really need in their rotation.
But after losing out on Greinke—and perhaps Sanchez as well—it's probably better to go for middle-of-the-rotation starters rather than overpay for someone like Kyle Lohse.
This season, Jackson compiled a 10-11 record for the Nationals with a 4.03 ERA. He struck out an average of eight batters per nine innings, the second-highest rate of his career. Jackson also allowed 8.2 hits every nine innings, his lowest rate since becoming a full-time starting pitcher.
Between the Cubs and Rangers, Jackson is probably a better fit in Texas, where he could slot in as the third or fourth starter and provide nearly 200 innings for the middle of the rotation.
Without acquiring a top starter, Yu Darvish is the ace in Arlington. Colby Lewis and Matt Harrison will follow him in the rotation. Jackson probably fits between those two in the Rangers' starting five, allowing Derek Holland to settle in at the fifth spot.
Perhaps Alexi Ogando becomes a swingman type of pitcher, bouncing between the rotation and middle relief.
Though the Cubs obviously feel they could use another starting pitcher, GM Theo Epstein arguably has a rotation already filled out. Jeff Samardzija had a strong 2012, while Matt Garza projects to be the No. 2 starter. From there, Scott Baker, Scott Feldman and Travis Wood will place somewhere in the three remaining spots.
OK, there's probably a place for Jackson in that rotation.
But at this point in his career, he surely wants to play for a contender. Jackson won a World Series title with the Cardinals in 2011, so he doesn't have to chase an opportunity to win a ring. Yet getting another chance at a championship must be appealing.
Perhaps Jackson wants to help return the Cubs back to contention, however. Other players have based their decisions on that before. Pudge Rodriguez signing with the Tigers in 2004 comes to mind. Jayson Werth choosing the Nationals before the 2011 season is another example.
Of course, those players both went for the money, so it's not like their intentions were truly noble.
Considering Jackson's desire for a fourth year on his contract, he'll choose between the Cubs and Rangers based on which team gives him the best deal.
But if it's pretty close, Jackson should really go to Texas and possibly end his career on a winning note.
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