The Cubs finalized the largest free agent deal of the Theo Epstein-Jed Hoyer regime today, a four-year, $52MM contract for 29-year-old righty Edwin Jackson. The expenditure was the sixth-largest for any free agent this year, and the team's parallel pursuits of Jackson and Anibal Sanchez surprised those who thought the club would again tread lightly in free agency as part of a long-term rebuilding plan. Cubs GM Jed Hoyer explained the rationale behind the signing with his opening remarks at Jackson's press conference:
"He pitched all of last year at 28 years old, he's been incredibly durable, had some really excellent seasons during his time in the big leagues, and we actually think his best days are ahead of him. He fits very well on the team in 2013, but we think he fits even better going forward as a core member of what we're trying to build here in Chicago. His talent, his age, and everything we learned about him as a teammate were all reasons we were excited to add him to the roster, and we're excited to go forward with Edwin as a big part of our club." Hoyer made it clear that every individual season is "precious," and they're trying to build a winner every year.
Having played for seven teams in his career, Jackson has found some measure of stability with the four-year deal. He told reporters, "It definitely feels great. I think the most assuring part is that you have the chance to relax and know that you're going to be somewhere for a while and you don't have to feel like you have to prove yourself every year. I think it's definitely going to help to just go out and have fun and not have to worry about anything else." Jackson will finalize another long-term deal on Saturday, as he and fiancée Erika Zanders will be tying the knot.
Jackson had an explanation as to why he's played for so many teams, saying with a smile, "I think everyone likes me." He never saw the movement as a negative; instead, all the trades made him feel wanted. Hoyer offered another theory, noting, "a lot of his recent stops have been due to the inability to sign him to an extension." Prior to this contract, Jackson had only signed one multiyear deal, a two-year pact covering only his final arbitration years. Not coincidentally, Jackson was represented by the Boras Corporation for his previous contracts, an agency he dropped last summer for Legacy Sports Group. Jackson preferred not to comment on his reason for leaving Boras, saying only that he had "no hard feelings." Boras pushed Jackson to take a one-year, $11MM deal with the Nationals last February rather than a reported three-year offer in the $30MM range from the Pirates, a decision that ultimately paid off when the Cubs opened their checkbook.