Assuming that the deal actually goes through as planned, which is easier said than done on the North Side these days, the Chicago Cubs will have made their most noteworthy signing of the offseason, in bringing in starter Edwin Jackson.
Jackson, who has become the very definition of a journeyman over the last several years, finally gets a home for more than a few months in agreeing to a four-year, $52 million contract. While it seems like a tremendous overpayment by the front office, it's actually only a raise of $2 million from what he made with the Washington Nationals last season.
There's no doubt that $13 mil a year is a good chunk of change to spend on a guy who won't be above a no. 3 starter in the rotation. But in this market, and given what Jackson brings to the table, this is a deal that is actually a very nice one for the Chicago Cubs.
Despite being a former top prospect in his days with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Jackson isn't the type of pitcher who's going to light up the stat sheet and notch nine or 10 strikeouts every single outing. But as far as his performance goes, he's as steady as they come out on the mound.
Jackson's numbers with the Nats last season weren't overly impressive at first glance, but he turned in a very nice year for one of baseball's top clubs. He posted a solid 3.85 FIP, along with walking less than three hitters per nine. His ERA+ came in at 98, which is perfectly average, and was actually a bit of a slip from where he was in years past.
We know Jackson is a successful pitcher, whether it's in the regular or postseason. He has very nice stuff, his fastball being his best pitch. While he's not a no. 1 or 2, he's a terrific addition for this rotation and should still be in the mix by the time this team is ready to contend.
An underrated aspect of Jackson, aside from his performance, is his durability. He's averaged almost 200 innings and has basically zero injury history. Add it all up, and the Cubs absolutely made the right move in signing Edwin Jackson, regardless of the cash they had to spend to get him.
In addition to the signing of Jackson by itself, the move shows that the Cubs aren't going to simply continue to throw away seasons, even if no one actually expects them to contend. Surprises aren't uncommon in Major League Baseball, and the Cubs are proving that they'll spend the money where they see an opportunity, and when it makes sense. Which means people in the seats.