You have to believe that Edwin Jackson is the pitcher that Mike Rizzo always wanted. Back when Adam Dunn was engaging in his version of Anacostia’s aerial bombardment, Rizzo thought of shipping him out to Chicago for Jackson, a stocky hard-throwing righty in Rizzo’s former organization — the Arizona Diamondbacks. That deal never went through (which remains somewhat of a mystery), but Rizzo continued to eye Jackson, who knows how to pile up innings and has one of the heavier fastballs in the majors.
Rizzo finally got his man today, signing Jackson to a reported one year contract worth between $8 and $12 million. Aside from the trade for the immensely talented Gio Gonzalez, the deal for Jackson solidifies what now must be considered one of the best starting rotations in the N.L. East — of Strasburg, Gonzalez, Zimmermann and (now) Jackson. That front four, when reinforced by Chien-Ming Wang and (perhaps) John Lannan, is likely to outperform the front four from Miami, or Atlanta, or New York, and maybe even from Philadelphia.
“The term and the value was too good to pass up,” Rizzo said of the Jackson deal. “We felt it improved our club immensely. There comes a point where his value was such that we were comfortable making the deal.” Despite his history with Jackson (and his continued flirtation with trading for him), the deal came as a surprise. The Red Sox were thought to be in the running for Jackson, as well as the Orioles.
It certainly helped that Jackson is a Scott Boras talent, and one year away from free agency. Boras is apparently convinced that Jackson would do better with a one year contract, than with a three year offer from elsewhere. In effect, this is a lease-to-purchase operation not uncommon in the great game, with Rizzo and Boras calculating the Jackson will pitch his heart out over the next months to up his value. But for Washington, and Rizzo, the added attraction is that Jackson will suck up innings: he threw 199 innings in 2011, 209 in 2010 and 214 in 2009. The kid (he’s only 28) is a horse.
There isn’t a thing to dislike about this deal, and Nats’ Nation has reacted accordingly. Federal Baseball was upbeat about the deal, while noting that the Jackson signing apparently puts John Lannan on the block — perhaps for that much sought-after centerfield leadoff hitter. Adam Kilgore, meanwhile, reports that the team will tweak Jackson’s wind-up, because the righty has had trouble tipping his pitches. Rizzo said that he doesn’t hide the ball well enough when he’s not in the stretch. Nats Enquirer also celebrated the news: “Well, a rotation of: 1. Stras 2. Gio; 3. Zimmermann; 4. Jackson; 5/6 Wang? Detwiler? Lannan? That’s a damn fine rotation. Bring on the Phillies.”