There haven’t been too many major oopsies on the transaction side for the Chicago Cubs’ front office in its current tenure, but I don’t think many would disagree that signing Edwin Jackson to a four-year, $52 million deal before the 2013 season was a mistake. I won’t belabor it here, because I’ve already addressed it at length when the Cubs released him last season, but it made sense at the time. It seemed like a good gamble on a good fit. But Jackson’s ability to avoid hard contact completely evaporated, and his effectiveness went negative because of it.
After a short stint in the bullpen early in 2015, the Cubs decided to move on, which was a bummer for Jackson, but a necessary step for the Cubs. The roster maneuvering that followed eventually allowed the Cubs to add, among others, guys like Clayton Richard, Trevor Cahill, and Fernando Rodney, each of whom proved an extremely useful bullpen arm down the stretch.
Because of the release, the Cubs were on the hook for the balance of the salary owed to Jackson on his original deal, which, after accounting for the signing bonus, includes $11 million in 2016.
Thankfully – for the Cubs and for Jackson – he’s reportedly on the verge of signing a Major League contract (as opposed to trying to win a spot on a minor league deal) with the Marlins. That means, as soon as he signs, the Cubs will save some of that $11 million obligation. Not much, mind you, as the Marlins would be on the hook for just the Major League minimum. But hey: an extra $510,000 to baseball operations is an extra $510,000. Maybe that allows them to make an additional international signing, or be more aggressive on the waiver wire in-season. Or maybe it allows them to spend a little more on front office or scouting talent.
Good for Jackson, and (mini) good for the Cubs.
As for the deal, it’s interesting that Jackson would get a big league deal (he’s going to be paid either way), which means there was a little bit of competition for his services. That probably says a little something about the reclamation tier of pitchers this offseason, which we discussed this weekend. And, for what it’s worth, although his peripherals were ugly, Jackson did keep his ERA right around 3.00 all season long between the Cubs and Braves, while pitching 55.2 relief innings.