Edwin Jackson is a hugely underrated pitcher. Too many sportswriters beat him up for his “average” 10-10 seasons with his 4.00 ERA and his 1.30 WHIP. In the same breath, they will sing the praises of an up-and-coming 29-year-old like Clay Buchholz, Anibal Sanchez or Ricky Romero regardless of the similarities in numbers.
Jackson is undeniably an “old” 29-year-old. While guys his age like Romero and Max Scherzer have only been around for four seasons, Edwin is a 10-year veteran. We can hope that Romero, Buchholz, and Sanchez blossom into ace pitchers but we already know what Jackson is going to do. Some sportswriters may dismiss him as average but he is consistent, reliable, and proven.
The thing to understand about Jackson is that because he has been around so long he is no longer in the same phase of his career that he was in as a Dodger or Devil Ray. Since leaving the Rays in 2009, he matches up extremely well with other 29-year-olds that teams would be salivating over if they hit the market.
Averages Since 2009:
Edwin Jackson: 11-10, 203 IP, 3.98 ERA, 164 K, 1.33 WHIP
Ricky Romero: 13-11, 198 IP, 4.09 ERA, 154 K, 1.39 WHIP
Max Scherzer: 13-10, 187 IP, 3.94 ERA, 191 K, 1.31 WHIP
Clay Buchholz: 10-6, 134 IP, 3.62 ERA, 94 K, 1.29 WHIP
Anibal Sanchez: 8-10, 168 IP, 3.72 ERA, 149 K, 1.32 WHIP
Jeremy Guthrie was the first pitcher to get a contract this off-season, getting a three-year, $25MM deal from the Royals. At over $8MM per season, Guthrie is a guy with a significantly worse win-loss record, ERA, and strike out numbers. Assuming that is the industry standard that sets the bar for the off-season, Jackson could definitely get a deal in the neighborhood of three-years, $33MM+. Frankly, in an off-season of overinflated contract offers, the lack of good pitching on the market may finally force teams to give Jackson some respect in the salary department.
And who is going to give him that respect?
Blue Jays: Despite getting both Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle in the trade that brought half of the Marlins roster to Canada, and despite Ricky Romero and Brandon Morrow already there, the Jays are reportedly interested in signing Jackson or Anibal Sanchez this off-season.
Nationals: Edwin has expressed a desire to remain in Washington if they give him a multi-year deal. The Nats aren’t sold but they are considering Zack Greinke, Anibal Sanchez, and Kyle Lohse which pretty much means they would have to consider Jackson as well. They did offer him a $2.3MM raise, after all, before he declined their qualifying offer.
Red Sox: The Sox were very close to signing Jackson in 2011 and are taking a look once again this season. Their top target seemed to be Hiroki Kuroda who seems to be have his sights set on re-signing with the Yankees or going back to Los Angeles. That pretty much brings the Sox right back around to Edwin who could be a nice consistent presence in an up-and-down Boston rotation.
Indians: The Indians are another team that expressed a lot of interest in Jackson last off-season and are taking another look now that he is out there again. Indians haven’t been known to spend a lot of money on free agent pitchers, however, so they might be unlikely to offer Jackson the deal he wants, just as they missed out last time.
Brewers: The Brewers moved Greinke during the season and are losing Shaun Marcum which leaves plenty of spots and money for solid free agent pickups. They are pretty much looking at everyone out there, including Jackson, Lohse, and Dempster.
Pirates: It looks like the Pirates will be losing Kevin Correia which opens up a spot for another veteran starter to take over. Pirates have been looking to spend more on their rotation, picking up AJ Burnett and Wandy Rodriguez in trades so Jackson could be a distinct possibility.
Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com