We certainly haven’t been shy about covering all the bases when it comes to free agency options for the Tigers here at Motor City Bengals. In fact, MCB writer Jordan Gorosh even covered the idea of re-signing Edwin Jackson at the end of December, whose bizarre status as baseball nomad, has been a thing of interest to follow. This guy just can’t stick with one team.
Part of the reason Jackson has been traded multiple times in the past 3 years is that he is talented. Jackson has an explosive right arm, and teams are going to be interested in acquiring him. However, his inconsistency in the past has made teams willing to part with him as well. When you get a valued commodity (talent), coupled with a frustrating quality (inconsistency), you get a guy who gets moved.
Coming into this off-season, Edwin Jackson and his agent Scott Boras, were looking for that permanent home for Edwin. At least for somewhere in the neighborhood of 3 years, and rightfully so. He has been a Tampa Bay Ray, Detroit Tiger, Arizona Diamondback, Chicago White Sock, Toronto Blue Jay (briefly), and St. Louis Cardinal over the past 3 years.
For whatever reason, it appears the market isn’t what Boras and Jackson had hoped, at least for the teams he is looking to play for. Things just got interesting however, according to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun, it appears that Jackson is willing to sign with a team on a one year deal. It’s actually kind of a genius move by him and his uber-agent Boras at this point, as it expands the amount of teams that might be willing to sign him, and most likely would make him a trade commodity once again at the deadline if the team that signs him is not contending.
The Tigers situation is one in that they expect to be contending, and Edwin Jackson could function wonderfully as the Tigers 5th starter on a one year basis. After all, it’s not like the Tigers and Jackson’s agent haven’t gotten along in the past on some his clients. I think this is where I find a spot to insert Prince Fielder into the consversation…..The Tigers just signed his biggest off-season client, Prince Fielder, to a long term deal, and Boras probably has Dave Dombrowski and company on his friends list on his cell phone.
So why should the Tigers spend the 8M dollars or so to get Jackson back on staff? It’s simple. He is a good pitcher, and right now is a much better option than letting the kids duke it out for the 5th spot. We can wax poetically all we want about one of the promising youngsters doing the job, but the likelihood they give the Tigers something better than what Brad Penny gave them last year is somewhat small. Tigers owner Mike Ilitch went all in a couple weeks ago, and Jackson is just another move to help improve this team for 2012.
Last season between the White Sox and the Cardinals, Jackson performed well, sporting an overall record of 12-9 with an ERA of 3.79. In 2010, strangely enough, Jackson struggled in the National League with the Diamondbacks before being traded to the White Sox during the season. With the Sox, Jackson posted fantastic numbers down the stretch, going 4-2 in 11 starts with an ERA of 3.24. In 2009, his only year with the Tigers, and arguably the best of his career, he dominated in the first half on his way to an All-Star selection before finishing 13-9 with a 3.62 ERA.
Jackson’s career numbers show a guy that hasn’t quite lived up to expectations, but his career has been long, and we have to take into account the numbers he had as a real young pitcher still learning his craft. He was once a big time prospect in the Dodgers organization, and was already hitting the bigs at age 19. Still, his career ERA of 4.46, and career record of 60-60 suggest inconsistency. While inconsistency has been an issue, Jackson has improved quite a bit the past 3 years, and that can be seen in his K/BB ratio more than anything. A guy that used to have trouble with control early in his career, Jackson has become a guy that will walk only 3 batters per 9 on the average now, while striking out close to 7 per 9.
Those numbers the past three seasons isn’t what brings the most value to the Tigers from Jackson in my opinion. Yes, it would be nice to have a 5th starter that can put up quality numbers and have fantastic games from time to time. What I am interested in is the fact that Jackson is a workhorse. Jackson has essentially topped the 200 innings mark for three consecutive seasons now. He came up one out short last year, but he will take the ball every fifth day and go deep into games.
The Tigers bullpen, despite the addition of Octavio Dotel for the 7th inning, is still a question mark on this ball club. Can you imagine the advantage that the Tigers would have over the majority of teams in the American League if they can post 5 starters who can throw 200 innings? One, they don’t have to dip into the middle innings of their pen nearly as much, making it so the majority of innings can go to guys that get more outs like Joaquin Benoit and Jose Valverde. Two, it allows the aforementioned youngsters to continue building their arm strength up down in the minors, making it so Manager Jim Leyland doesn’t have to worry about innings and pitch counts with his 5th starter. Lastly, it would potentially give the offense more flexibility. The Tigers could carry just 6 relievers in this case, instead of their normal 7, adding a position player to the mix for a team that might need plenty of defensive replacements.
Another advantage of signing Jackson to a one year deal for the Tigers is that he is going to be pitching for that big contract in 2013. Jackson, who is already a bulldog and fierce competitor, isn’t going to be less so knowing that he is pitching for some stability. The Tigers would certainly be getting his best effort, and he would be coming back to the city he had his most success in.
Another advantage to signing Jackson would be his ability to translate well to a bullpen guy come playoff time. He might be better than Scherzer or Porcello, so that may not come into affect, but his stuff and demeanor could be a plus in the late innings, and give the Tigers another viable option in the pen.
Hopefully the Tigers are getting on the horn once again with Scott Boras. This seems to be a move that makes too much sense for the Tigers not to at least put feelers out for. Edwin Jackson is the best option for the Tigers at the 5th spot in the rotation, and all it is going to take is some money. I think Mike Ilitch has already crossed that line.
Why not go a little further?