After left-handers C.J. Wilson and Mark Buerhle, the biggest contract to a free-agent starting pitcher this offseason went to righty Aaron Harang, who signed with the Dodgers for two years, $12 million.
The trade market for starting pitchers has been far more active, with lefties Gio Gonzalez and Jonathan Sanchez and righties Trevor Cahill and Mat Latos among those changing teams.
Which brings us to Edwin Jackson.
Of the remaining free agents, Jackson is perhaps the most attractive, considering that at 28, he is considerably younger than righty Hiroki Kuroda, 36, and righty Roy Oswalt, 34.
Jackson’s agent, Scott Boras, pointed out Wednesday that Jackson is more proven than Japanese right-hander Yu Darvish, who is likely to command a total outlay of more than $110 million after the Rangers won his negotiating rights with a bid of $51.7 million.
“If someone were to say that Yu Darvish would come in, average 200 innings, less than a 4.00 ERA and be a solid two or three starter, they would be elated,” Boras said. “The reality is, that is exactly what Edwin Jackson has done.”
“I’ll stand on record and say that no Japanese pitcher that I know of has come here their first three seasons and averaged 200 innings with less than a 4.00 ERA. There are none. (Darvish) would be the first.”
Actually Boras is wrong — Hideo Nomo averaged 209 innings and a 3.34 ERA in his first three seasons with the Dodgers. But the agent's overall point is valid: Darvish will not have it easy.
Jackson in the past three seasons is 35-30 with a 3.96 ERA, averaging 207 2/3 innings. No one would call him an ace, but he actually compares reasonably well with Phillies lefty Cole Hamels, who will be a free agent after next season, and Cubs righty Matt Garza, who currently is available in trade.
Hamels is 36-31 with a 3.36 ERA over the past three seasons, Garza 33-32 with a 3.73 ERA. In ERA-plus, a statistic that adjusts ERA for league and ballpark, with 100 being the average, Hamels is at 120, Garza 109, Jackson 108.
“Edwin is very much unknown in this (free-agent) process,” Boras said. “Look at the trade market, the availability of older shorter-term, veteran pitchers, the newness of so many general managers . . . it definitely had an impact. The new GMs, as they slip into it, their familiarity with the market is all new. The information they receive is all new.”
Ten teams have changed GMs over the past two offseasons, though a number of those executives had previous experience in the role.
— Ken Rosenthal