The Nationals haven't finished above .500 since moving to Washington in 2005, but there's reason to expect significant improvement from the 2012 club. GM Mike Rizzo continued bolstering his pitching staff today, agreeing to terms with free agent right-hander Edwin Jackson.
The team announced the one-year deal, and Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, who first reported the news (all Twitter links), says the agreement is valued at $11MM. The Scott Boras client will earn $11MM plus incentives this year, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reports.
The Nationals' projected starting rotation includes Jackson (pictured), Gio Gonzalez, Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann and Chien-Ming Wang. Every one of the starters except Wang had an average fastball velocity of at least 92 mph in 2011. John Lannan and Ross Detwiler would provide rotation depth, though Lannan is now on the trade block.
Jackson, 28, posted a 3.79 ERA with 6.7 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 with a 43.8% ground ball rate in 199 2/3 innings for the White Sox and Cardinals this past season. The hard-throwing right-hander has averaged 208 innings per season with a 3.96 ERA since 2009, but has a career ERA of 4.46 with 6.7 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9 since he debuted with the Dodgers on his 20th birthday in 2003. Jackson ranked sixth on MLBTR’s list of top free agents entering the offseason.
Jackson profiled as a Type B free agent after the season and the Cardinals offered him arbitration. They'll obtain a compensatory draft pick in the supplementary first round of this year's amateur draft, but it won't come from the Nationals.
As MLBTR's Agency Database shows, the Boras Corporation has quite a presence on the Nationals' roster. Danny Espinosa, Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon, Stephen Strasburg and Jayson Werth are all Boras clients.
Last week the Nationals added Brad Lidge to a bullpen that includes Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard and Henry Rodriguez. Washington's offense finished 24th in MLB in runs scored last year, but improvements to the pitching staff could make them a threat in the NL East this coming season.
Photo courtesy Icon SMI. Jim Duquette of MLB Network Radio first tweeted the value of the deal.