Monday, December 10, 2012

Edwin Jackson's "very cool" market offers opportunity

On Saturday evening, word slowly started to trickle out about Zach Greinke, the best starting pitcher on the free agent market, signing a six-year, $147 million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The new ownership team in LA is not afraid to spend money as their team payroll is well over $200 million for next season and they might not be done yet. With Greinke now off the market, some of the other big name free agent starters should begin to sign. 

Those teams that missed out on the Greinke sweepstakes will now have to turn their attention to the other available arms. Kyle Lohse, Edwin Jackson, and Anibal Sanchez are the next three best free agent starters and their demand might have gone up slightly in the last 48 hours. There might be a few more needy teams calling these player's agents as Christmas is quickly approaching. 

The Twins weren't going to be in the running for Zach Greinke because the club hasn't exactly been known to hand out $100 million contracts to free agents. Last season's signing of Josh Willingham for 3-years and $21 million was the largest free agent contract in club history. They might have to break this dollar total if the Twins want to sign one of the big free agent starters left on the market.

When the offseason started, the Twins had a little bit of cap room to work with to try and lure free agents to come to Minnesota. The recent trade of Denard Span also freed up a little more money that could be used for starting pitching. He was set to make $4.75 million in 2013 and now it is clear that the Twins will be using a cheaper option in center field.

It doesn't seem likely for the Twins to go to hard after Kyle Lohse because he left the team on such bad terms. He took a baseball bat after Ron Gardenhire's door the last time he was in town and the same manager is still in charge. This isn't saying that the team wouldn't make him an offer but the odds wouldn't exactly be in favor of him returning. 

Anibal Sanchez is another big name starting pitcher and he might have already priced himself out of consideration for the Twins. He is looking for a six-year, $90 million contract and one AL executive thinks he will probably get that much. There is no way the Twins are going to give a starting pitcher that kind of contract and Sanchez will probably be able to pick from a few different clubs that will be interested. 

Since breaking into the big leagues as a 19-year old rookie in 2003, Edwin Jackson has been on quite the baseball tour. He has played for seven different teams in his 10-year career and that includes multiple seasons in the American League and the National League. Over the last three seasons, he has averaged a 3.91 ERA, 195.0 IP, and a 1.330 WHIP. These aren't great numbers but he has been a workhorse by pitching over 180 innings in every season since 2007.

Jackson was a free agent during last offseason and the market dried up for the right-handed hurler. Some of this might have come from the fact that his agent is Scott Boras, one of the toughest agents for teams to work with. In the end, Jackson had to settle for a one-year deal with the Nationals worth $11 million. This is still a decent amount of money but he will most likely be looking for a multi-year contract this offseason. 

Reports from this weekend stated that the market for Jackson is cool again this offseason. This could allow a team like the Twins to slip in and make an offer for the pitcher. This same report says that Jackson could end up having to accept a deal close to three-years and $36 million or even as low as three-years and $27 million. If the Twins ended up somewhere in the middle of those two numbers, they could have Jackson set to be the third member of their starting rotation for 2013.

The Twins could put themselves in a decent position for the future if they were able to pounce on the cold market for Jackson. He might not be a front of the rotation starter but he could help add some stability to the starting staff for the next handful of seasons. With their recent trades, the Twins got some good young arms but those players might not be ready for a couple of years. Jackson could help the Twins for multiple seasons by being a healthy arm that eats innings. 

If other teams don't want the services of Mr. Jackson, the Twins should definitely be making the call to inquire about him coming to Minnesota. He might not be an ace but he can fill a hole and bridge a gap to the future. 

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