Admittedly, this is a bit of a follow up post on a topic brought up Pine Tar Press author Clint Scoles here. As I was scanning over the remaining free agents following Brandon McCarthy's signing in Arizona, I remembered that Edwin Jackson was still on the market. It is strange how little buzz has surrounded Jackson this offseason. In fact, on Friday Bob Dutton tweeted that the Royals and other teams were "very cool" on the right hander.
Edwin Jackson is is 29 years old. For four straight seasons he has been a very valuable pitcher averaging 203 innings per season and 3.5 fWAR per season. During that same time frame he has recorded a 3.98 ERA with 7.3 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9.
It is bizarre how little play Edwin Jackson is getting in free agency. Here we are hearing that the Royals should offer Dempster a third year at $13 million per year, and there is a younger option with more upside and similar past performance available on the market.
The thing about Jackson, is that there are hints that he actually is improving. For the second consecutive season his walk rate was around 2.75 and for the third consecutive year his ground ball percentage was over 40%. In fact, in 2012, Jackson posted the second highest ground ball percentage of his career at 47.3%. This recent improvement may be the result of the implementation of a cutter that Jackson is said to have thrown over 5% of the time in 2012.
We shouldn't go without noting that Jackson pitched in Washington in 2012. However, even if a move back to the American League knocks a full strikeout per 9 innings off of his K/9, he'll still be recording enough strikeouts for a strong K:BB.
Listen I don't think Edwin Jackson is going to come over to Kansas City and turn into an ace. However, Jackson is already a fringe 3 starter that has proven he can eat innings. He has excellent stuff and with a little more improvement, he could be be 2/3 type. The lack of buzz could be an opportunity for Kansas City. Clint Scoles speculates that a 3 year deal for 27-30 million would get it done. If that is the case, then Kansas City should strike. If it takes 3 years, 36 million I think that would still make sense for the Royals.
Does an Edwin Jackson signing shift the tables in the American League Central? Probably not. Does it make the Royals better for 2013? Absolutely. This goes without saying that the addition of Jackson, would hopefully end the thought of trading Wil Myers. Personally, the Royals are much better with Jackson + Myers than with Shields + Francoeur.
Once again, I can't imagine why Edwin Jackson is so irrelevant in this year's free agent class. But outside of Zack Greinke and Anibal Sanchez there isn't a pitcher that can match the combination of his age and track record. There is an opportunity here and the Royals would be remiss to not explore it.