The Washington Nationals announced this afternoon that they'd signed 28-year-old free agent RHP Edwin Jackson to what is reportedly a one-year deal (that is, "expected to be in $10 million range," according to @Ken_Rosenthal, "$8-to-12 range" according to @JonHeymanCBS) pending the pitcher's completion of a physical. Jackson, who is represented by super agent Scott Boras, is an '01 6th Round pick by the LA Dodgers, who's pitched for seven teams in nine MLB seasons, posting a (12-9) record during the 2011 season with the Chicago White Sox and World Series-winning St. Louis Cardinals in which he had a 3.79 ERA, 3.55 FIP, 62 walks (2.79 BB/9) and 148 K's (6.67 K/9) in 32 G, 31 GS and 199.2 IP. In his career, he's a .500 pitcher at (60-60) in 203 games and 1079.0 IP over which he's walked 439 (3.66 BB/9) and struck out 801 (6.68 K/9).
Jackson is the second addition to the Nats' rotation this winter...
In December, Washington acquired left-hander Gio Gonzalez from Oakland in a deal that sent four prospects (three of them pitchers) to the A's. The acquisition created a competition for the final two spots in the Nats' rotation with three pitchers, John Lannan, Chien-Ming Wang and Ross Detwiler expected to battle it out to pitch alongside Stephen Strasburg, Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann. "We feel good about ourselves," the Nats' GM said when asked about the crowded rotation, "We feel confident that we're going to be a competitive club in a real tough division. We like all six of our rotation guys. We love the top three guys. We feel comfortable that we have depth in the rotation. We like our four and five guys and there's going to be good competition at several spots and we feel comfortable with our bullpen. We're not done with our bullpen. We're trying to improve ourselves in the rotation and in the bullpen and any other way we can."
The next day the Nationals announced that they'd signed reliever Brad Lidge, adding a veteran presence to the back end of their bullpen. Earlier today, the Nats announced that they'd added Edwin Jackson. "We saw an opportunity here to acquire a young, hard-throwing, power-pitching, innings-eating type of starting pitcher," the Nats' GM told reporters on a conference call this afternoon, "and we thought it was a good value, at a good term and you can never have enough good quality starting pitching." Discussions with Jackson and his agent Scott Boras about a possible deal began, "...probably about ten or twelve days ago," Rizzo said, when the right-hander decided he'd consider a one-year deal.
"When he came to a possible shorter-term deal, a one-year deal, he made it much more palatable for us," Rizzo explained this afternoon, "And when we recognized that on a one-year deal at the term and the value of this pitcher, [it] was too good to pass up and we thought it improved our club immensely."
As for the rumors of this deal being a prelude to a trade for the bat Washington's been after all winter, the Nationals' GM denied that was the case. "I think they're mutually exclusive," Rizzo said, "I think we made this decision to help us in our starting rotation and we feel that we've done that." The acquisition, barring a deal somewhere down the line, leaves the Nationals with seven pitchers competing for five spots in the 2012 rotation. "We're certainly going to have good competition in Spring Training," the general manager said, "And we're going to bring the best twenty-five north with us."
"It gives us depth and options not only in the rotation but in the bullpen," Rizzo told reporters, "From the start of Spring Training when everyone talks about, 'You have too many starters,' to the reality of the grueling major league season when you're looking for starters we feel that we have great depth and a good talent base." The GM wouldn't rule out the possibility of a deal still happening this winter, however, responding to a question by explaining, "We're certainly always open to [making] a deal that makes sense for us, and if it can improve the ballclub. We did not acquire Edwin Jackson to trade another starting pitcher. If in Spring Training, or before Spring Training a deal comes up that we can't pass up that positively impacts our ballclub we'll definitely be open-minded about it."
"We know that we have depth in the rotation," the general manager said, "We have good, quality, hard-throwing power pitchers that we're going to go to camp with and if all are healthy and we have an opportunity to make a trade to improve ourselves somewhere else we'll certainly look into it, but I like the competition aspect of this and there's going to be a lot of good pitchers out there in Spring Training this year and the best twenty-five guys will go north."
A big reason the Nationals felt the signing made sense, the GM explained, was, "... not only that [Jackson's] a young talented pitcher that's had success in the past. You look at the other parts of our rotation where Stephen Strasburg's going to be on some sort of pitch limit. Jordan Zimmermann is coming off a 160-inning season, has never pitched 200.0 innings in the big leagues. Chien-Ming Wang [is] coming off a couple years of inactivity and hasn't really stretched his arm out for a long period of time...We felt that we had an innings-shortage and if you do the research, out of the eight playoff teams last year, six of those eight teams had two 200+ innings pitchers on the team and we felt that we had an innings-shortage and this not only fixes the innings-shortage, it also gives us a quality standard that we feel can compete with any team in the division."