A little bit ago, I noted that the free agent market was still relatively replete with quality relief options, which is good news, because we know the Cubs are going to be opportunistic there to add another arm or two.
That market got a little thinner today, though, as the Giants got aggressive to sign 2021 breakout righty Luke Jackson to a two-year deal worth $11.5 million guaranteed (plus a $7 million team option for 2025, with a $2 million buyout). I say 2021 breakout because, after Tommy John surgery in April, Jackson missed all of 2022.
Jackson, 31, was solid for the Atlanta Braves in 2019, struggled in the pandemic year, and then posted a sub-2 ERA in 2021 over 63.2 innings. Had he stayed healthy and done that again in 2022, who knows how substantial his contract might’ve been. As it stood, I didn’t expect him to get quite this much on a bit of a flier deal, so good for him. Even in his great 2021 season, the peripherals suggested he was more like a “very solid” reliever than a top one.
There was no indication that Cubs were ever in on Jackson, specifically. We’ll see if this is a one off, or if there will be some more relief moves in the early part of this week.
Among the top free agent relievers still remaining: righty Michael Fulmer, lefty Matt Moore, lefty Brad Hand, and old friend, lefty Andrew Chafin. There are still a ton more interesting guys, too, and I’d expect the Cubs to get a little busier in this market as soon as next week, after Friday’s arbitration-signing work is done. The Cubs signed Brad Boxberger earlier this offseason and have brought in some guys on minor league deals. But I tend to think there’s more coming.