Scouting the Free Agent Market: Edwin Jackson

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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.

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  • Gerald Williams

    No thanks.

    • the Other Steve S.

      +1

  • Peter North

    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.

    • Brian S.

      He’s not really a question mark. If you look at his last three years he has been remarkably consistent and productive.

    • http://www.bronxbombersreport.com Craig Maduro

      What constitutes “cheap” in your eyes? I’m super cheap when it comes to Danks. I’m not willing to see the Yanks move Betances, Sanchez or Mason Williams for him.

  • Brian S.

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

    • Jumpin’ Jack Swisher

      He’d get crabs.

      • Brian S.

        Nothing some special shampoo couldn’t fix. If that’s it I think we should sign him.

        • Jumpin’ Jack Swisher

          If you feed him after midnight, though, he’ll give birth to a million little Zach Grienkes.

          • Brian S.

            Also a problem that could be bypassed with a little supervision.

          • 28 this year

            That might be a way the Yankees can acquire talent. I will take a rotation of 5 Zach Grienkes.

  • William

    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

      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)

  • dkidd

    sign a pitcher to big bucks?

    what are we, the yankees?

    • Rey22

      *Marlins

  • Jumpin’ Jack Swisher

    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.

  • mustang

    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.

    • Mike HC

      I was thinking he lacked Aura.

      • mustang

        He also might lack “grit” and “clutchness”.

        • Mike HC

          He does have a ring though, so he is clearly a winner. But, his post season numbers are poor, so he is also clearly a choker.

          • mustang

            Regardless “he’s a gamer”.

    • Jumpin’ Jack Swisher

      Heaven forbid someone be able to post something they don’t need to offer an accompanying thesis with on the comment section on this site. :)

      • mustang

        True. Its just funny because how many comments get nailed because they use words “chemistry”,” he’s a gamer”,” grit” and “clutchness” without having the numbers to back it up.

        I know what Joe means he seen Jackson pitch and he has a feel for the player that the numbers may not exactly back up. Yet this is the same kind of ideology that often gets ridicule here by post and comments.

    • Rainbow Connection

      Do you mean ‘Mystique’?

  • AJavierkei Pavagawnett

    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.

  • SRB

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

    • dkidd

      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

  • http://www.bronxbombersreport.com Craig Maduro

    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.

    • dkidd

      for jason schmidt, “turned a corner” = steroids

      • http://www.bronxbombersreport.com Craig Maduro

        Eh, I’m not buying that. Roids can help players with certain things, but they don’t help you learn how to pitch.

        • Rainbow Connection

          Who said they do?

          • http://www.bronxbombersreport.com Craig Maduro

            Nobody said so explicitly, but it is the opinion that I am inferring from dkidd’s comment.

    • Jumpin’ Jack Swisher

      I think they should kick and, perhaps, rotate his tires, but anything past two years is not something I would want to commit to the guy. By the third, there’s a good chance you’d want to slash those tires.

      • Gonzo

        Isn’t that the case with almost all big FA contracts though? RE: Slashing tires for the last year of the contract.

      • http://www.bronxbombersreport.com Craig Maduro

        I’d definitely have some reservations over three years, but I think I’d be okay with it overall. It’s the money figure that I am more anxious to see get tossed around before I hop on the bandwagon with both feet.

  • Gonzo

    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.

  • MattG

    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.

    • http://www.bronxbombersreport.com Craig Maduro

      Jason Schmidt.

      Didn’t bounce around quite as much as Jackson, but I think he’s the guy you’re looking for.

    • Plank

      Cliff Lee? He hasn’t been with the Phillies for 3 years yet though. Maybe he didn’t bounce around enough either.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      Curt Schilling?

      • JAG

        David Cone?

  • Gonzo

    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.

  • Kiersten

    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.

    • Gonzo

      How much per year for EJax?

  • Bronx Byte

    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.

  • Sweet Dick Willie

    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.

    • Gonzo

      After Buehrle’s contract I wouldn’t be surprised with anything.

  • Holy Ghost

    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.

  • http://bloodfarm.tumblr.com mattdamonwayans

    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.

  • mike

    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

    • Brian S.

      He is nothing like AJ at all.

      • GroomedScrotum

        Remarkably inconsistant throughout his career. High BB/9 rates and not knowing what you’ll get from start to start with him? Yeah… he’s very much like AJ.

        Jackson isn’t worth the hassle.

  • BUDDY

    Just bring Bartolo back!

  • sleepy-brandon

    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.