Dec
19

Scouting the Free Agent Market: Edwin Jackson

By

If you take a look at MLB Trade Rumors’ remaining free agents list, you might notice something peculiar. Actually, maybe you won’t; I didn’t until Mike pointed it out. First browse the position players and identify players who could hit in the middle of a contender’s lineup. Then look at the relievers and see who could soak up high leverage innings. And then finally look at starting pitchers and see which ones will likely give you above-average production. We might quibble here and there on the details, but it’s pretty clear that the three best remaining players from those categories are Prince Fielder, Ryan Madson, and Edwin Jackson. It should come as no surprise to learn what they all have in common.

They’re all Scott Boras clients.

Boras has laid relatively low this off-season. He has placed only three players so far, four counting Andrew Brackman, and they’re all lower-tier types: Bruce Chen, Gerald Laird, and Willie Bloomquist. Yet his greatest assets are still not only on the market, but they’re the best choice for any team looking to upgrade. That means he’ll likely extract a decent price for them. While the market remains quiet for Jackson — his last MLBTR mention came more than a week ago, and it was to note a non-interested team — he’ll surely fetch a decent sum if only because he’s the best remaining pitcher on the market.

Chances are the Yanks won’t pursue him. They stayed out of the C.J. Wilson sweepstakes and reports are that they didn’t go big on Yu Darvish. It sounds as though they’re looking for either a true No. 2, or to shore up the back end of the rotation. Jackson could help them in the middle of the rotation, but probably not at a cost that the Yankees find appealing.

Pros

  • Jackson just turned 28 this past September, making him one of the younger options on the market. Many, if not most, free agents hit the market as they’re exiting their prime years. Jackson is just entering them. That makes it more likely they’ll pay for future, rather than past, performance.
  • He’s shown some improvement in his peripherals the past two years, notably in his ground ball rate. He’s also kept the ball in the park better in the last two seasons, which has led to his two best FIP seasons.
  • Even with a .330 BABIP last year, almost 20 points higher than his career average, he still managed a 3.79 ERA in nearly 200 innings.
  • His last two seasons have been split between the AL and the NL, but he’s actually performed better in the AL — while pitching for the White Sox, a team with a hitter-friendly park.
  • Once a big problem, he’s improved his walk rate in the last year and a half.
  • His numbers in the last three seasons: 622 IP, 7.09 K/9, 3.04 BB/9, 0.93 HR/9, 3.96 ERA, 3.91 FIP. Those aren’t outstanding numbers, but they’re solidly above average.

Cons

  • Scott Boras has him in a good position now and can likely extract a decent price. Plenty of teams need pitching, and as listed above Jackson has plenty of positive qualities. Chances are he’ll provide solidly above production for a salary of a slightly better pitcher.
  • He hasn’t exactly been a welcome member of any staff, as he’s pitched for six teams in his career. Part of that might be circumstance beyond his control. But there has to be something about a pitcher that so many teams are willing to part with.
  • Chances are that in addition to a sizable salary, Boras is also looking for a four-year contract, or even more. That’s a long time to commit to a pitcher who will at best be your No. 3.
  • As we mentioned earlier in the off-season, Jackson’s strikeout rate tends to fluctuate wildly. It’s not necessarily a red flag, but it does raise some eyebrows.

There’s no way to justify it other than saying it’s a gut feeling, but it seems as though Jackson is the type of free agent who would sign with the Yankees and then pitch pretty poorly. Maybe it wouldn’t be Carl Pavano 2.0, but I do feel as though Jackson wouldn’t work out nearly as well as the numbers suggest. This is by no way an authoritative stance, but it’s just something that I’ve felt when evaluating Jackson as a free agent.

Categories : Hot Stove League

54 Comments»

  1. Gerald Williams says:

    No thanks.

  2. Peter North says:

    I’d rather trade for Danks (cheaply, of course) and try him out for a year than commit dollars and years to EJax. The Yanks have enough question marks in their rotation.

  3. Brian S. says:

    Do you guys think he could handle New York(tm)???????
    Any internet psychologists here want to give us a diagnosis?

  4. William says:

    CC is proven. AJ scares the he’ll out of me. Nova is still way too inexperienced too beba usre thing. Betances and Banuelos are crapshoots. Hughes has been inconsistent. Get Jackson, who is not flashy but consistent and proven.

    • Need Pitching says:

      the rotation could definitely use help, but I would not sign Jackson long term

      I really don’t see him as a legit #2, and paying him what it would likely take to sign him would probably not provide the payroll flexibility to add a legit #2 should one become available in the next 2 years (unless Hank/Hal decide to raise the payroll above 210M, which it doesn’t seem like they are willing to do)

  5. dkidd says:

    sign a pitcher to big bucks?

    what are we, the yankees?

  6. Jumpin' Jack Swisher says:

    Not the kind of guy you want on a multi-year deal, but will likely wind up giving a multi-year deal to. The Yankees aren’t that desperate. Pass, unless his price in years comes WAY down.

  7. mustang says:

    Wait a minute we are now allowed to make judgments here by “gut feeling” isn’t that against the RAB constitution or something.

    Maybe Jackson will not fit into the “chemistry” of the team or maybe he can catch a little of that “Yankee Mystic”.

    I don’t know I think we should all analyze this more.

  8. AJavierkei Pavagawnett says:

    I’d take Kuroda over him if signable. Less years, less dollars, better peripherals.

    I’d also take Wandy Rodriguez over him, who might be had in a trade for used chewing gum and old shoes.

    Not sure about all this enthusiasm to trade for Danks unless you’re convinced he wants to sign a long term contract. The guy is a free agent in a year and is not a make or break player to have for the rotation next year.

  9. SRB says:

    No to EJax unless unless the heavens opened up and someone took AJ off our hands

    • dkidd says:

      at this point, it would be consistent with the yankees “new” approach to not sign a starting pitcher, salary dump aj and give his spot to hector

  10. Craig Maduro says:

    I’ll preface by saying I don’t have any idea what type of deal Jackson/Boras will command.

    With that said though, I like Edwin Jackson and think the Yankees should at least rotate the tires on him. I know his numbers haven’t suggested that he’s on his way to taking the next step, but I’m not convinced that he can’t become a front-line starter given his raw stuff.

    Forgive me for cherry picking here, but I keep looking back at a guy like Jason Schmidt. He had a big arm with puny results until he turned a corner seemingly overnight during the second half of his age 28 season. Finding out a similar turnaround awaits Jackson might not be worth the Boras price, but I want the Yankees to at least put themselves in the mix.

  11. Gonzo says:

    Boras is so good. Loves to be the last store open for business.

    If your agent is Boras and you’re unsigned right now, not a problem. Any other agent and you are a little nervous.

  12. MattG says:

    I am searching for the pitcher that bounced around all through his team-controlled years, then became a solid contributor to a single franchise for 3+ years.

    I got nothing.

    Not that it would mean anything one way or another. I used O’Neill as proof that Granderson would become an MVP candidate, but of course I wasn’t serious.

  13. Gonzo says:

    Unless there are red flags I don’t know about, my money is the Nats present a deal that would make anyone here very nervous.

  14. Kiersten says:

    That’s a long time to commit to a pitcher who will at best be your No. 3.

    Splitting hairs here, but who’s better than Jackson in the Yankees’ rotation besides CC?

    I actually agree with NoMaas on this one. I’d rather sign Kuroda because of the shorter commitment, but I’d take Jackson on a 4-year deal.

  15. Bronx Byte says:

    No so sure with Edwin Jackson. Cashman would have to check with his previous GM’s to see if it’s true that Jackson is a party boy.
    He could fall in love with a lot of downtown bars.

  16. Sweet Dick Willie says:

    Per Cot’s, he earned $8.35 mil last year.

    So what would a 4 year contract look like? 4/$40? $45? $50?

    Say he can get a 4/$48 deal, $12 mil/yr.

    Why not offer 2/$30? It would fit in w/ ownership’s 2014 plan, and Boras would have another shot at FA when he is only 30 years old.

  17. Holy Ghost says:

    The fact that he’s played on so many teams through his short career raises red flags with me.

    I agree that Edwin is the best starting pitcher available but I wouldn’t commit anymore than 3 years to him.

  18. I like Edwin Jackson but I don’t think he is a fit. There is more of a benefit to letting Hughes/Nova/Noesi/Phelps/Warren battle it out for a rotation spot.

  19. mike says:

    AJ redux, except he has proven he can pitch out of the pen if required…if he wanted a 2+1 for 15mm per, i’d give it a shot since Kuroda would likely want the same, as i think by 2013 Jackson would be better than Kuroda anyway

  20. BUDDY says:

    Just bring Bartolo back!

  21. sleepy-brandon says:

    I say lets give Noesi a chance and put AJ as the long man. If AJ wasn’t making the money he’s making he’d be let go/traded/ really the long man. I say, we already know what we have in AJ, let’s find out what we have with Noesi.

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