Remember in July 2010 when the Nationals traded Adam Dunn to the White Sox for Edwin Jackson? Of course you don't, since that trade never happened. Some national baseball scribes reported that Nats general manager Mike Rizzo backed out of an agreement to make that swap, that he'd told White Sox GM Kenny Williams, "Get me Jackson from Arizona and you can have Dunn." Problem was, that conversation never actually took place, and both Rizzo and Williams denied anything had ever been agreed upon.
I was thinking about that last night watching Jackson walk seven Texas Rangers in Game 4 of the World Series. Before Jackson had walked anyone, Fox broadcaster Joe Buck referenced Jackson's no-hitter against Tampa Bay in June 2010, though he didn't mention Jackson's eight walks and 149 pitches in that effort.
It struck me watching Derek Holland and Neftali Feliz shut out St. Louis last night that Jackson will be a free agent after the series. Given that the Nationals are reportedly looking to add a veteran starting pitcher to the mix for 2012, I have to wonder if Rizzo and his staff still look at Jackson as potentially being that guy.
I hope not.
At 27, Jackson has already been on six big league clubs. He's a .500 pitcher (60-60) with an ERA of 4.55 in 173 starts. His most notable comparable pitcher through the early part of his career is Livan Hernandez
Here's my point: Wouldn't it make a lot more sense to simply re-up Hernandez than pursue Jackson? Again, I'm not saying that Jackson is even on their radar, but I do know they liked him before. Hernandez wouldn't be looking at a long-term deal, and Jackson likely would. Yes, Jackson is nine years younger, but age hasn't seemed to really impact Hernandez. The Nationals, who seem to have a lot of good young arms waiting in the wings, would be better served economically, not to mention the fact that Hernandez is a much better hitter, too.
Last year, I asked a veteran scout why Jackson gets traded so much. "Everybody loves his arm," he told me. "If he ever found true command of all his pitches, he'd win the Cy Young Award. And every GM thinks he'll find it in their uniform."
At this point, I don't think adding another starter is the Nats' No. 1 priority this winter, but it's likely still on the agenda. I think they can do better than Jackson. His propensity to put hitters on via the free pass is as prolific as ever.
Let him do it in another part of the country.