Why Mr. Jackson went to Washington
Two takeaways from having Edwin Jackson spurn both one-year and three-year offers from the Pirates to agree to a one-year, $11 million deal with the Nationals:
- 1. Agent Scott Boras apparently feels that the Nats will be a better team than the Bucs, thus a better forum for Jackson to inflate his value for re-entering the free-agent market next winter.
- 2. Boras feels Jackson therefore will eventually land a long-term deal for more than the $30 million the Pirates were willing to consider.
I’d take both of those bets with Boras.
Yes, the Nationals made more high-profile moves this winter (the acquisition of and ensuing extension for Gio Gonzalez) and pack higher-profile prospects (Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg). But that won’t translate into a better record than that of the Bucs.
Sure, partly because Pittsburgh will play more games against a weaker division. That wouldn’t have been noted with an asterisk next to Jackson’s won-loss record. Bottom-line, Jackson could’ve had a superior statement season with the Bucs. By the way — he has one win in 10 career starts against NL East clubs (excluding Washington) and six wins in 21 starts against NL Central teams (excluding Pittsburgh).
Deferring Jackson’s bigger payday to post-2012 is an even riskier move. He could be swallowed up by a market that might include the likes of Matt Cain, Zack Greinke and Cole Hamels.
As for a pair of other veteran righties frequently tied to the Pirates …
Roy Oswalt is balancing so many factors — geography, salary, role — he could get to the point of having to reconsider the Pirates.
A.J. Burnett is a classic low-risk, potentially high-return option. But the Pirates do not have any motive to make a move now. Demand for the Yankees righty is low. If midway through Spring Training the Bucs feel a need to look for reinforcements, Burnett will still be available.