Let's keep chatting about players still on the market and whether they make sense for the Texas Rangers.
Today's player: Edwin Jackson
ESPN.com contributor Jim Bowden tweeted Tuesday that the San Diego Padres dropped out of the running for Jackson and that the Chicago Cubs and Rangers were the finalists for his services. It appears the Indians have interest as well.
Jackson, 29, was 10-11 with a 4.03 ERA in 31 starts (189 2/3 innings) with the Washington Nationals in 2012. He wasn't able to get a long-term deal after the 2011 season -- he was 12-9 with a 3.79 ERA in 199 2/3 innings for the Chicago White Sox and St. Louis Cardinals -- and settled for $11 million from the Nationals. Washington did not make a qualifying offer to Jackson, so they won't get any draft-pick compensation should he leave.
Bowden wrote that the Padres dropped out because they didn't want to go four years. It's unclear if the Rangers are willing to do so, though Jackson would probably make in the $11 to $13 million range per season, according to various reports. He's played for seven teams (and has had two different stints with the White Sox) in his career but has proven durable the past four seasons.
Jackson made 31 starts in 2012 and 2011, 32 in 2010 and 33 in 2009 (that 2010 season included his 150-pitch no-hitter with Arizona). He pitched at least 199 innings in three of those seasons. His ERA was around 4.00 in that span. He's not a top-tier starter, but he's proven that he can eat innings and keep his team in games. Jackson managed to increase his strikeout total by 20 (he had 168 strikeouts in 2012) and reduce his walks by four (he had 58 last season).
Like other free-agent options, the Rangers must ask themselves a few questions. First, is Jackson worth a four-year commitment, if that's what it takes to sign him? That could be something in the four-year, $50 million range. Second, is he better than the club's internal options? The Rangers could use more starting depth with Colby Lewis and Neftali Feliz not ready to start the season on time. But they are also pushing their younger pitchers forward, perhaps even giving them a chance to compete for a rotation spot (guys like Martin Perez and Justin Grimm) if they don't find an impact pitcher.
But Jackson would give them someone who is still young enough that a long-term deal makes some sense. And he's shown he can stay healthy. It would also add to the club's starting depth and round out the rotation. He could slot somewhere in the middle (perhaps at No. 3 behind Matt Harrison). Is that worth the investment and the fact that it could, at least temporarily, block some of those younger pitchers from joining the rotation (unless the club decided to move Alexi Ogando back to the bullpen, though that doesn't seem likely)?
Last year was a reminder that no matter how much starting pitching you think you have, things happen. Feliz and Lewis got injured, Roy Oswalt struggled and didn't pan out. Scott Feldman was inconsistent and the club was forced to bring Grimm up from Double-A to make a start. Perez also got chances. It may be a matter of what kind of contract the Rangers could get for Jackson and exactly how much they are willing to invest in a pitcher that isn't one of the top-tier they were seeking when the offseason began.
What do you think of Jackson? Is he worth four years? Would you sign him or go with the younger internal options?