The Braves have won their arbitration hearing against right-hander Luke Jackson, reports Mark Feinsand of MLB.com (Twitter link). He’ll be paid at the $3.6MM rate submitted by the team, as opposed to the $4MM rate filed by Jackson and his representatives.
Jackson won’t pitch this season after undergoing Tommy John surgery last month, although that factor shouldn’t have impacted his hearing outcome. Arbitration panels evaluate the cases of the team and player based on prior seasons’ performance. Hearings are typically conducted in early to mid-February, if necessary, but the 99-day lockout this offseason got in the way of arbitration proceedings and forced teams and players into the uncomfortable situation of resolving discrepancies of this nature while games are being played.
The 30-year-old Jackson has had a roller-coaster career with the Braves but enjoyed perhaps his finest season in 2021, pitching 63 2/3 innings of 1.98 ERA ball and piling up 31 holds as the team’s primary setup man. He fanned 26.8% of his opponents with a strong 52.5% grounder rate, both of which helped to offset an unpalatable 11.1% walk rate. Jackson struggled considerably in 2020 but otherwise has ranged from a serviceable to high-quality bullpen piece, evidenced by a combined 3.93 ERA in 254 innings from 2017-21.
Unfortunately for Jackson, he won’t have the chance to bolster his earning power with a repeat of last year’s performance. It’s particularly poor timing — not that there’s “good” timing for a major injury and surgery — given that Jackson has five-plus years of Major League service and is slated to become a free agent for the first time following the 2022 season. He could still garner interest on a Major League deal, especially since his surgery was performed so early in the season, but the type of multi-year deal he might’ve commanded upon replicating his 2021 output is no longer feasible.
The Braves have now won hearings over two of their arbitration-eligible players, as they also topped Austin Riley in a hearing last week. They still have unresolved cases against lefty Max Fried ($6.6MM vs. $6.85MM), shortstop Dansby Swanson ($9.2MM vs. $10MM) and outfielder Adam Duvall ($9.275MM vs. $10.275MM).