Fans had been waiting patiently for the last chip to fall. All of the big free agents had signed (Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, C.J. Wilson, etc.) except for one. That one was Edwin Jackson, and he signed with the Washington Nationals yesterday for one year worth somewhere around $10 million. At first glance, this looks like a pretty good deal for the Nats.
First, let’s take a look at it from Jackson’s point of view. No teams were biting on his original request for five years and $60 million, and a lot of teams didn’t even want him for three years. Despite the small amount of very good starting pitching on the market, teams didn’t want to overpay for someone as inconsistent as E-Jax.
His strikeout and walk rates seem to fluctuate by about one per nine innings every season, and despite his FIP being in the threes both of the last two seasons, he’s still a gamble because of his unpredictable inputs. He was still able to get good money for the lone year that he signed for, and he’s able to hit the market again next offseason at the still ripe age of 29 for hopefully a longer and more lucrative deal.
This all being said, the Nationals definitely got the better part of the deal. They are getting a 28-year-old pitcher who has made 30-plus starts each of the last five seasons and whose numbers are trending upward. Jackson will join a very young rotation headlined by Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, and Jordan Zimmermann. This should prove to be a very strong staff, and it gives the Nationals some pitching.
With a full rotation, it’s not a far-fetched idea that they could move a starter and turn it into something else. I’m not sure how much they can get back for John Lannan since he’s not a high strikeout guy, but he could definitely have some value to a team that needs a back-end piece.
With a solid team, a weak National League, and another wild card being added to October, the Nats definitely can’t be counted out, so expect them to contend for a playoff spot in 2012. The great part of this deal is that Washington gets Jackson as an innings eater, and they don’t have to worry about him sustaining his strikeout or walk numbers over a long period of time because it’s only a one-year pact.
It’s a good move all around, and now with the last big fish of the offseason being fried, we can finally look forward to the start of spring training.