Free Agent Stock Watch: Edwin Jackson

When the Nationals signed Edwin Jackson to a one-year, $11MM contract a few days before the start of Spring Training, it was widely considered to be one of the best free agent deals of the offseason. They had just added a workhorse starter with a 3.96 ERA from 2009-2011 to a staff that already included Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, and Jordan Zimmermann. The pitching rich got richer.

Uspw_6510102Jackson, 29, is now scheduled to hit the free agent market for the second time in as many years. He dumped Scott Boras in favor of the Legacy Agency in July, perhaps an indication that he was unhappy with only getting a one-year contract. Jackson passed on a lucrative three-year offer from the Pirates to join a club that many believed was poised to break through and become a contender, a belief that proved to be true. But still, he didn't get a long-term deal.

This season has been similar to the last three for Jackson. He's pitched to a 4.13 ERA in 30 starts and 183 innings while keeping his walk rate down (2.8 BB/9), his ground ball rate up (47.2%), and enjoying a boost to his strikeout rate (8.0 K/9) after a full year in the NL. Jackson is limping to the finish though, as his ERA has jumped exactly half-a-run this month. He allowed nine runs (eight earned) in 1 1/3 innings last night, and has allowed at least four runs in four of his five September starts. His fastball velocity, which averaged 94-95 mph from 2007-2011, is suddenly more 92-94 these days.

One bad month usually isn't enough to sabotage a player's free agent stock, and Jackson will have the postseason to prove that September is just a poorly-timed slump. The free agent pitching market will be headlined by Zack Greinke, but Jackson leads a group of second-tier arms that will include Ryan Dempster, Hiroki Kuroda, Kyle Lohse, Shaun Marcum, and Anibal Sanchez. More than 3,500 MLBTR readers say the Nationals should make Jackson a qualifying offer (in the $13MM range) after the season, a move that frankly feels like a no-brainer. It'll entitle them to draft pick compensation if he signs elsewhere, and in the worst case they get him back for another year.

Jackson is almost certainly going to seek the multi-year contract he was unable to land last offseason, and he should have no trouble finding suitors. Big market teams like the Red Sox, Tigers, Dodgers, and Yankees could turn to him to supplement their rotations while smaller payroll clubs like the Pirates, Royals, Blue Jays, Indians, and Orioles figure to show interest as well. Pitching is always in high demand, especially when you're talking about a just turned 29-year-old who is right smack in the prime of his career.

Photo courtesy of US Presswire.

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12 Comments on "Free Agent Stock Watch: Edwin Jackson"

2 years 11 months ago

I just don’t think the National’s need someone this inconsistent. I like him fine, but watching him this month has been too frustrating. Hopefully even if he doesn’t pitch well in the postseason the Nats can do as well as the last team he failed in the postseason.

2 years 11 months ago

“but watching him this month has been too frustrating.”

His entire career has been inconsistent and frustrating to watch from the view of fans and is half of the reason he never signed a LT contract last off season. Other half? Boras attempting to show that he *IS* consistent and is a front line SP, when he clearly is not, nor never, ever has been.. Yet should be paid like one.

The hard truth may hit him in the face this off season when a weak SP market leaves him standing LT contract wise and he is stuck with either an under valued LT deal signed very late in the off season, or yet another 1 year deal.

Jackson is a decent #3-4 SP. No more and no less, yet Boras was/is going to try and sell him off as a #2 with potential #1 capabilities and the facts just don’t back it up.

Brian McKeever
2 years 11 months ago

If he was looking for a substantial boost in the amount he’ll be offered to sign a longer term contract I imagine he’s going to be disappointed after his late season fade unless he throws a gem or two in the playoffs. He took the one year deal to prove he deserved a longer one, but in the end showed that he is the same old frustrating, middle of the rotation starter he has always been.

2 years 11 months ago

David Glass, if you are serious about spending money and getting good pitching, here’s one of your targets.

2 years 11 months ago

Seems more likely Christian Rodriguez will start next year instead of resigning Jackson. He is just too inconsistent, and for a Nats team that relies on their staff, an over 4.00 ERA doesn’t cut it. Jackson’s biggest contribution was not mentioned in this article: he has eaten up innings.

2 years 11 months ago

I assume you mean Christian Garcia, who is probably going to stay a reliever. I would guess they either go with Lannan or a free agent, maybe Kuroda if he’ll sign here.

2 years 11 months ago

edwin jackson is somewhere between aj burnett and jason marquis. desperation will decide which one he gets paid like.

2 years 11 months ago

Give him a qualifying offer. No-lose situation.

2 years 10 months ago

Why would any team give this guy $30 mill or more for 3 years? He’s a #4 starter at best. Barely keeps his teams in half the games he starts. Blows up way too much to be counted on. That he’s made as much money as he has shows there are a lot of gullible GMs out there.

2 years 11 months ago

I changed it from market to payroll for that exact reason.

2 years 11 months ago

Market is defined by the total interest and demand.

The fact that the Blue Jays still receive revenue sharing is not a good indicator that the market has changed.

You can have a large population, but if there is no interest, it is still a small market.

Then again, interest will probably rise substantially if the Blue Jays organization actually tried to win …

2 years 11 months ago

Walks so many batters? 2.8BB/9 is a pretty good measure of his ability to throw strikes.