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After the Chicago Cubs missed out on Anibal Sanchez – tired of hearing that introductory clause yet? – or, more to the point, after the Chicago Cubs demonstrated a willingness to go after 28/29-year-old free agent starting pitchers who require a multiyear commitment, just about everyone had one name on their lips:

Edwin Jackson.

As I noted on Saturday, each of Bruce Levine, Paul Sullivan, and Gordon Wittenmyer suggested Jackson as the Cubs’ next target, albeit with words like “could,” “might,” and “may.” Given the superficial similarities between Sanchez and Jackson – they’re both free agent right-handed starters, they’ll both be 29 next season, they both are above-average starters, etc. – it’s understandable that his would be the first name that came up. Indeed, I do hope the Cubs pursue him.

But Sanchez and Jackson are as noteworthy for their differences as they are for their similarities.

Jackson’s Major League career ERA+ is 98. That means, for his career – which admittedly started at the tender age of 19 (yes, he was a super-prospect) – Jackson’s performance has been below average (ERA+ is adjusted for ballpark and league, and is scaled such that 100 is average). Even in his best years, from 2009 to 2012, his ERA+ is just 106. Above average, sure, but hardly more than what you’d want from, say, your number three or four starter. Heck, on a very good team, that might be what you want out of the guy at the back-end. Sanchez’s career ERA+ is 110.

Further, WAR says that, while Sanchez has been worth a lofty 4.4 and 3.8 wins in 2011 and 2012, the season in which he really broke out, Jackson was worth slightly less, at 3.9 and 2.7.

And, while Sanchez just re-signed long-term with the second team he’s played for (the team to which he was traded by the only other team he’d ever played for), Jackson is seeking his seventh team in the last six years. Is that meaningful? Is it just a career fluke? Maybe. But it’s noteworthy.

The point of this exercise, of course, is not to diminish Jackson – he’s a fine pitcher, and we’ll get to that – but instead to point out that it is not as if Jackson is simply a perfect Sanchez replacement. The latter is six months younger, has been more productive recently, and looks poised to be a front of the rotation type. The latter is a solid, relatively consistent middle of the rotation type.

To his credit, Jackson’s xFIP (which judges a pitcher’s performance only on those things he can control, and normalizes for home runs (which tend to fluctuate wildly, year to year)), has been a very solid 3.71, 3.73, 3.79 each of the last three years, despite ERAs of 4.47, 3.79, and 4.03. In other words, he may have been a fair bit better than his ERA says he was. His walk rate has been decreasing over that stretch, and his strikeout rate has been a touch higher than his career mark. Those are good signs.

And that three year stretch comes on the heels of his 3.62 ERA, 125 ERA+ 2009 All-Star season. So, let’s not be totally unfair: he’s been a good pitcher the last four years.

Against that backdrop, do you want Jackson in your rotation? Of course. Most teams would.

The price, however, is the question. Jackson went into free agency last year expecting his first big pay day, saw the market dry up, and had to settle with a one-year, $11 million deal with the Nationals. After the 2012 season, when confronted with the choice of offering Jackson a qualifying one-year, $13.5 million contract so that they could secure a draft pick if he signed elsewhere, the Nationals elected not to do so. In other words, they feared his market might be such that he would accept the one-year, $13.5 million offer. That was either a huge mis-read of the market by the Nationals, or an indication of where Jackson’s price ceiling is going to fall.

The Padres have reportedly been negotiating extensively with Jackson on a three-year deal, believed to be in the $12 million per year range (though the seriousness of those discussions is subject to some debate). The Rangers, among other teams, are believed to be interested, and Jackson is believed to prefer a four or five-year deal.

You don’t need me to explain why the Cubs would be very interested at just three years and $36 million, assuming they have interest in Jackson at all. In other words, absent some physical or clubhouse issue to which we’re not privy, I can’t fathom Jackson is going to sign for so little. In that price range, I’d be very upset if the Cubs weren’t heavily involved – especially considering that the Padres, like the Cubs, are a rebuilding organization.

But should the Cubs up the ante to four or five years, and $13 or $14 million? You could certainly make the argument, given Jackson’s durability (he’s thrown more than 189 innings each of the last four years), that he’d be worth that investment. He’s not a difference-maker in the way Sanchez could have been, but he could be a part of the Cubs’ next competitive rotation. With Jackson in place through, say 2016, the Cubs would have a fair excuse to push to lock up Matt Garza for the same range, and they would then have Garza, Jackson, and Jeff Samardzija all in place for their likely next competitive window. A great team would need another starter (preferably an ace), but that’s not a bad pitching core.

I guess, at bottom, I’d like to see the Cubs involved here for all of the same reasons I wanted to see them involved in Sanchez, even if I don’t think Jackson is quite the pitcher that Sanchez is.

  • Justin

    Why did it just come out on mlbtraderumors that Beliveau just got DFA?

  • Spencer

    You sure love xFIP :)

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      ’twas only a piece of the statistical pie.

  • cjdubbya

    As a complete aside, I just found this and thought it funny – former Mets pitcher Turk Wendell is available to play in your next pick-up basketball game…

    http://www.thuzio.com/sports/baseball/turk-wendell.html

  • mister_rob

    I read where Nick Swisher is having dinner with the Indians tonight. And they are supposedly somewhere in the 4/50m area. My question is why isnt that a fit for us?

    As it stands now, if we trade sori at some point this year and BJax doesnt break through, we will have no actual starting quality OFers going into next season. Swisher would probably still be productive in year 3 when we hope to compete

    • MichiganGoat

      The best I have is because he is douche lord along with Brian Wilson

    • TheCubsFanFormerlyKnownAsJeff

      “As it stands now, if we trade Soriano at some point this year and BJax doesn’t break through, we will have no actual starting quality OF’ers going into next season. ”

      That really concerns me, you bring up a good point!

    • terencemann

      Swisher is slowly heading toward playing first base so I don’t think that’s a fit for the Cubs. It makes sense for the Indians who have had trouble filling that spot ever since Ji Jim Thome left.

  • hansman1982

    I don’t know jack about the Nats defense but with a solid Cubs defense behind him his ERA numbers should fall some. Granted, moving to Petco his numbers would look quite dandy.

  • TheCubsFanFormerlyKnownAsJeff

    Heck No, sorry. Jackson just has too much baggage plus his agent is Scott Boras. It’s too expensive for where we are at. The only way it makes sense is if he is traded at the deadline. However, I think players are onto the FO using this tactic. I just don’t see Jackson wanting to come to the Cubs, he’s not in the situation a Baker or Fieldman are.

    • cub2014

      what kind of numbers is liriano looking for, if he regains
      control of strike zone upside is large. i would assume he
      is looking for a incentive laiden short term deal.

  • Justin

    I don’t see why you wouldn’t try for him. Give him a front loaded contract so he can be more attractive to teams if traded towards end of contract and you don’t know how well he will be in 3-4 years. I don’t get why more teams don’t do front loaded contracts when they have plenty of money in hand, especially for a rebuilding team. Why not have the funds down the road? Any thoughts on why teams do this with back loanded contracts?

    • THEOlogical

      One good reason, in which Brett pointed to this earlier, is because teams want to stay under the cap. And usually you have to sign players and back load their contracts because you’ve already backloaded contracts to others as well in the past. Which, at that time they are being paid the handsome amount of loot.

  • walterj

    The question I ask is would you rather sign Jackson at 4yrs 12 million per or wait for Hughes next year and gamble he would take that same offer . Jackson is probably more durable but Hughes is younger .

  • Chad

    Has to be some clubhouse issues. Only reason I can see he hasn’t stuck anywhere. This sounds too familiar to me. Which recent cub outfielder played for 8 teams in 10 years and was a complete emotional wreck? milton bradley. If there is even a hint it is the same deal, please stay away cubbies.

    • Edwin

      I’ve never heard the same comparisons about Jackson as Bradley. Bradley had a number of well documented incidents, I haven’t seen anything similar about Jackson anywhere.

      I think Jackson was traded so many times because of the stigma of what type of pitcher he’s been, and how he’s actually performed. He wasn’t great in his early years, so he never signed a super expensive deal. However, he’s always been good enough that other teams wanted him in trades, but not too good that he’s been priced himself out of the market, or that his current team wanted to sign him to a long term deal. Looking back at his trades, they seem to all make sense from a baseball standpoint at the time.

  • Carne Harris

    I just really don’t see us going after Jackson with that career 1.438 WHIP. I hope we target Marcum. Just better numbers across the board. He’s a couple years older than Jackson, but Jackson has about 350 more major league innings on his arm he came into the league so young.

  • cubsin

    I’ve heard very little about Shaun Marcum lately. He just turned 31 this month, and he spent some time on the DL this year, but he’s been more successful than Jackson (career ERA+ of 112). He looks like a stronger candidate to me.

    • Edwin

      I don’t see why the Cubs would sign Marcum. As you said, he’s 31. He’d be about 33-34 by the time the Cubs are ready to compete, if they’re ready that early. His numbers are trending down, and he’s coming off injury. Just doesn’t seem like a good fit to me.

      • DarthHater

        I don’t like the phrase “ready to compete.” A professional sports franchise should be ready to compete every season.

        I think what you mean to say is that we don’t want to be stuck with an ongoing expensive commitment to an over-the-hill pitcher at a time when some of our current young prospects should really be starting to produce. I agree. But that can be avoided by not going more than 3 years on a guy like Marcum. I don’t know if he can be had for 3 years, but if so, then I think it’s worth considering for the purpose of being as ready as possible to compete this year.

        Are we likely to make the post season this year even with a Marcum? No, not likely, but stranger things have happened. At any rate, even if an investment in a player like Marcum doesn’t pay off in an instant playoff run, it can pay off by helping to make the Cubs a more attractive destination for other players going forward – it’s also nice for the fans, but who gives a rat’s ass about them? ;-)

    • cub2014

      cubs had him for marmol but pulled out on the
      deal after his physical or medical records. either
      way i doubt they are going back after him.

      • DarthHater

        That was Haren, not Marcum.

        • cub2014

          ya your right my bad.

  • cubsin

    Great minds think alike.

    • Carne Harris

      I almost posted that to you which would have either been doubly great or made us officially doublemint twins.

  • MightyBear

    Not big on Jackson but I wasn’t big on Sanchez either. I think both are over rated. Personally, I hope the Cubs pass.

  • Rizzofanclub

    I hope the cubs offer a 3 yr 39 million and if he turns that down I would not be upset. If they miss out on Edwin I see them going the 1 year route with Liriano/Villanueva route and I’m ok with it. As for Swisher I think the cubs need to sit back and wait until next year before they look at signing an outfielder. This way you will have a good idea if Brett Jackson is worth a spot or how far Almora and Soler will be from getting a call up.

    • cub2014

      i think cubs go with this lineup to start 2013 (maybe 70-75 wins?)
      depending on how big the fire sale in july:
      lineup:
      cf campana L sappelt R
      ss castro R
      1b rizzo L
      lf soriano R
      rf dejesus L
      c castillo R
      3b stewart L
      2b Barney L

      starters: samardizja,garza,feldman,woods, PTBNL,
      possible starters: baker,vizcaino
      relievers: marmol,fujikawa,russell,camp,rondon,a good lefty?
      bowden?,dolis?,cabrera?.

      it has possibilities but that is the optomist in me coming out.

      • cub2014

        sorry barney is right handed hitter, but he may be
        gone by then so they can try logan watkins.

        • terencemann

          I definitely hope Campana doesn’t lead off in 2013.

          • cub2014

            is scheirholtz a lefty? I just dont like dejesus
            as leadoff, but he does have a career .355
            on base percentage.

            • Chris

              Yeah they’re both lefties. I would prefer not to move Dejesus out of leadoff; otherwise we end up hiding his team leading OBP 7th in the lineup.

              • Jptopdog

                Would love for Dejesus to bat in 2 hole, and Castro to take all of his 200+ supposed meaningless hits to the leadoff spot, so he can get 60+ SB’s with Dejesus taking pitches, working counts, and his OPS. Would make it interesting for Rizzo, Soriano, etc., from an RBI standpoint. Wouldn’t want Dejesus wasted in the 7 hole, unless better top of order guys acquired.

                • Chet Masterson

                  60+ SB, 35+ CS.

      • http://facebook #1cubsfan2013

        i would rather have dejesus at CF and sheirholts at RF

  • Dustin S

    The only good sides I see for Jackson are as an innings eater, and you pretty much know what you are going to get. But besides his high WHIP, his postseason numbers have been pretty awful also. Not that the Cubs are aiming for the playoffs soon, but what’s the point of having a guy that will probably pitch poorly if you we somehow get there. I’d rather take Marcum or even throw Travis Wood out there every 5 days where there’s at least some chance of improvement. For some reason I just see Jackson as a more expensive Jason Marquis. And I’d also agree, the team hopping raises alot of red flags about him as a teammate.

  • jdblades7

    I’d say use that money to lock up Garza, he is better than all the pitchers mentioned. You should be able to get him for say the Sanchez deal.

    • TheCubsFanFormerlyKnownAsJeff

      +1 on extending Garza

      • rcleven

        Here we go in circles again. Garza would have been extended last year. Garza insisted on no trade and talks ended.
        Right now the game of chicken is on.
        Theo does not give NTC’s.

  • jbb

    Pass on Marchum and Jackson, expensive contracts for average results. FO has been discipline thus far so hate to see a overpayment. If I am going to take a risk I would rather kick the tire’s on Oswalt on a one year deal. Not certain what is left in his take but he is a vetern and painfully watched his career be more successful than Wood. .

  • Spriggs

    I will be very disappointed if the Cubs do not make a strong push for Jackson.

  • TheCubsFanFormerlyKnownAsJeff

    I will be very disappointed if the Cubs make a strong push for Jackson. :)

    • Spriggs

      Hey!

      • TheCubsFanFormerlyKnownAsJeff

        Sorry Spriggs, I’d rather see the FO complete a trade for Soriano than see them waste money on Jackson.

        • Spriggs

          But why can’t they do both?
          I’ve always liked Jackson and I think that his ground ball rate and durability would be nice for Wrigley. He’s still young enough to be part of a core of pitchers for the next several years. I really don’t want to go through another few seasons of Raley, Rusin, Berken, Lopez, etc. types getting over 50 starts a year. They have to start putting good MLB talent on their roster if they plan to attract other players to come here.

  • http://windycitysportswonk.blogspot.com/ Myles – WCSW

    Jackson is a good pitcher.

    The Cubs need good pitchers.

    Jackson will only cost money, and not a ton of it..

    The Cubs have money – a ton of it.

    The Cubs should sign Edwin Jackson.

    • cub2014

      remember carlos zambrano

      • Melrosepad

        Z had a temper that was visible to everyone, while haven’t heard anything like that with Jackson. Also pretty sure he is going to be at least 4 maybe 5 mil a year cheaper.

        • terencemann

          Zambrano’s deal was the most Jim Hendry deal ever, making him the highest paid RHP in baseball and giving him a full NTC. I think Jackson ends up with a lot less comparatively.

      • Chris

        The best pitcher the Cubs had over the last decade and helped us to 3 playoff appearances? Yeah he was cool.

        • Spriggs

          He hit several homers too

          • Chris

            Think he can play 3rd?

            • Spriggs

              He’s a switch hitter, too – so no platooning.

            • cub2014

              I bet he would try it.

          • Cubbie Blues

            He also hit teammates.

            • Spriggs

              and other things

              • Cubbie Blues

                He can also do this
                [img]http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lkqhk2n8Jf1qapfvgo1_400.gif[/img]

                [Ed. - a little help.]

            • Chris

              And batters and poor Gatorade machines. I think we can say his hit tool is pretty high.

            • Boogens

              “He also hit teammates.”

              That was really funny!!! (wish I’d have thought of it!)

      • Edwin

        I don’t understand. 2004-2010 Zambrano was very good, almost great. 2011-2012 Zambrano was terrible. What does this have to do with Edwin Jackson?

  • jdblades7

    I like Marcums win % more than Jacksons. I’ve also sick of him beating up on the Cubs with Milwaukee

  • https://www.facebook.com/anotherspacesong Bret Epic

    So right now we’re looking at

    C-Castillo
    1B-Rizzo
    2B-Barney
    3B-Stewart
    SS-Castro
    LF-Soriano
    CF-DeJesus
    RF-Schierholtz

    and of course all our bench players.

    SP-Garza
    SP-Samardzija
    SP-Baker
    SP-Feldman
    SP-Wood
    SP/RP-Vizcaino?
    SP/RP-Cabrera?
    SP/RP-Bowden?

    and a reliever list I don’t feel like making.

    If everyone is healthy, things can go pretty well in the SP department. If Vizcaino, Cabrera and Bowden do well stretched out, who knows what will happen. I see our weak point being in the outfield, especially if we trade Soriano. Who knows, maybe we’ll trade DeJesus as well. That’ll leave us in quite the pickle.

    • cub2014

      we are definitely weak in the outfield and even though it makes sense
      i dont see how they trade soriano. without him that will be an extremely
      weak offense. but schierholtz had better career numbers than i thought.
      avg .270 OB .318

      • https://www.facebook.com/anotherspacesong Bret Epic

        I like Schierholtz, but his offensive output isn’t overly impressive. It’s pretty similar to DeJesus, but lower and possibly a bit more power if he plays full time.

        • Chris

          Schierholtz was a curious signing as he and Dejesus had identical splits in 2012. Maybe they signed him because he’s the same player but cheaper, thus freeing them up to trade Dejesus. If not, we will have two Dejesuses in the lineup. Two Dejesuses doesn’t make a Wright.

          • https://www.facebook.com/anotherspacesong Bret Epic

            I agree. I like DeJesus, but I think we’d benefit by trading him. Some people would want to keep him as a lead off hitter because of his OBP, but I personally think his OBP looks a lot higher since we lack patient hitters, as well as have a lot of players who hit for a low average. He does take a good amount of walks and he’s very patient, but I don’t see him as a lead off hitter in a good line up.

            • Chris

              .350 OPB is pretty decent on any team. But you’re right in that he might not lead off on most teams. He’s currently the Cubs’ best option there though, so I say he should stay put.

  • TSB

    Is there a new rule in baseball that says we have to sign a FA pitcher this year, even if he is mediocre ? If there is nothing good on the market, save your dough until there is something good.

  • jbb

    Too many Carlos.

  • Demarrer

    What is not to like about Edwin Jackson? Is he not worth 10-12 million a year? Look at the contracts being given out. He is a solid starter, which the Cubs need plenty of. We don’t have one bonafied solid starter we can rely on this year. Samardijza was good for one year, but will he be awful this year? Garza and Baker are coming off injuries. The Cubs are filled with question marks and back end of the rotation starters. I think it is a no brainer to go after a solid starter who gives you solid innings, as long as the price is right.

    • cub2014

      cubs must get another starter, just dont get tied up
      into a deal more than 2 or 3 years. so jackson would
      be ok i would rather see liriano. a lefty with great upside
      lightning in a bottle.

  • ruby2626

    No mention of Carlos Villanueva in this thread, personally he’s the guy I would go after.

  • Tyler

    Not saying Edwin is great but don’t you think we need to sign one of these remaining FA pitchers to a couple years worth contract? After this season we only have one pitcher remaining under our control, Shark while the rest are gone. The FA pitching pool is very weak next year (from what we know now). I don’t think at this moment it’s the right thing to do in trading away what we have built as a strength now (farm system players like Baez, Soler, Almora) for a single piece in Price either. I don’t know I’m just eager and confused I guess as to how things will pan out in these next few year.

  • MightyBear

    Here’s a wild and woolly story for you. I go to my wife’s departmental Christmas party Saturday and it’s the usual boring chit chat and try not to do anything too embarrassing. So after milling around for awhile, I sit down because my feet are killing me and I sit next to an older lady and she’s very nice and we start chatting and I mention that I’m a Cub fan and she says her son is a minor league ballplayer. I don’t think to much of it but I ask who he is and it turns out to be Jameson Taillo, a big right hander who was taken 2nd in the 2010 draft by the Pirates. Apparently he’s progressed pretty fast and is probably going to start in AA next year but could be promoted to AAA pretty quickly and possibly be with the Bucs next year. They’re next door neighbors to my wife’s co-worker. It just seemed really unusual.

    • Melrosepad

      Nice story Bear. My wife has one similar. She was having to take a Spanish class to fulfill some extra requirement for work and was talking with some people in the class one night. She mentioned that I was a baseball fan and one of the ladies brought up her nephew played in the majors. Turns out she is the aunt of Torii Hunter. Got an autographed card out of it, so it was cool.

    • college_of_coaches

      When I was in grad school, I had a classmate who was a die-hard Phillies fan. One year he was a teaching assistant for a class along with another graduate student; they both taught separate sections. The other grad student (a stereotype academic who cared little for sports) told us one day that she had in her section a girl whose older brother played baseball. It turns out that the brother was Jason Werth, which drove my colleague (the Phillies fan) nuts since he taught the other section.

    • DarthHater

      I grew up in Kansas City and George Brett once asked my sister out on a date. Sadly, she was already practically engaged to the man to whom she is still married, so she had to say no to George. :-P

      • Chet Masterson

        Any woman with George is going to clean a lot of poop out of a lot of pants. She should consider herself lucky; unless her current husband poops his pants more than twice a year.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6hu4aLXv7U

        • DarthHater

          Okay, I am NOT going to click on that link – certainly not while I’m at work. And I’m sure she always considered herself lucky, without regard to poop.

          • Chet Masterson

            I should have clarified. The link is safe, as long as you have headphones on.

            It’s a video of George Brett mic’ed up telling some guys a story about his inability to control his stools from time to time.

            • DarthHater

              No, I still have nice memories of growing up watching George play in KC. Don’t want to spoil the illusion…

        • college_of_coaches

          That is seriously funny dude. George should get a corporate sponsorship with Depend.

        • Spriggs

          I won’t click on it either, but I do recall some problems he had with hemorrhoids.

          • DarthHater

            Hey, Spriggs,

            Imagine if a team made George Brett one of those offers where you can’t leave the room until the deal is sealed. Could really get messy . . .

            • Spriggs

              Yes! Hey, we should prolly stop talking about poop though, ok?

    • Spriggs

      Anyone remember Cubs pitcher, Bob Anderson from the early 60’s? I found out later he is actually from the general area (NW Indiana – Calumet Region) I grew up in, but when I was around 8 or 9 he moved right next door… He was on the Cubs at the time.

      Being the youngest kid on the block, I was sent up to the door to get his autograph on a few baseball cards (while everyone else watched from a distance). First I had to make sure it was him – we were about 95% sure. He waved everyone up to the door and signed all the cards. He only lived there for the remainder of the season.

  • dan

    Carlos Pena to stros on 1 year deal per mlb.com

  • Eric

    I don’t even want Jackson. I’m just really bummed about Sanchez. It was obvious with that attempt that the FO feels we are about ready to compete and they have the talent and farm to do it. Sanchez would have provided such good stability to our pitching staff. A guy who settles into the top end of the rotation provides a stable foundation. Whereas Jackson might eb more toward mid/low end of the rotation. Just not that much to get excited about.

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