The Nationals and right-hander Edwin Jackson have agreed to a minor league contract, according to his agents at the ESQ Agency. Jackson’s deal comes with a $1.5MM base salary as well as an additional $1.4MM worth of incentives.
The 34-year-old Jackson returned for a second stint with the Nats in 2017, signing a midseason minor league pact after initially spending time in the Orioles organization. Jackson posted a pristine 0.44 ERA in 20 1/3 Triple-A frames for the Nationals before being called up to the big league roster following Joe Ross’ season-ending Tommy John surgery. He’d go on to make 13 starts for the Nationals down the stretch, registering a 5.07 ERA with 7.4 K/9, 3.2 BB/9 and 38 percent ground-ball rate.
Jackson turned in a 2.94 ERA through his first eight starts, though he surrendered a whopping nine home runs through those 49 frames. That susceptibility to the long ball caught up to him over his final five starts, as Jackson was tagged for 24 earned runs in 22 innings of work. That said, he did average 93.6 mph on his heater with the Nationals and turn in an above-average 10.1 percent swinging-strike rate.
[Related: Washington Nationals depth chart]
The Nats will once again rely upon Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Tanner Roark in the top four spots of the rotation this coming season, though the fifth spot looks to be unsettled as Spring Training approaches. Jackson will join the race for that spot, vying with fellow right-handers Erick Fedde, A.J. Cole and Austin Voth as well as left-hander Tommy Milone (who also signed a minor league deal).
Of course, the Nationals have at times been linked to various starting pitching targets on both the free-agent and trade markets, leaving open the possibility that they’ll bring in another option to whom they’ll promise that remaining rotation vacancy.