After Prince Fielder signed with Detroit last week, there was general consensus that the next two so-called "premier" free agents, right-handed pitchers Roy Oswalt and Edwin Jackson, would sign quickly.
We're still waiting.
Oswalt was someone the Nationals had reportedly focused on last fall. A career National Leaguer with the Astros and Phillies, he'd apparently recovered from back issues that had curtailed his past two seasons. Originally he was looking for a multi-year offer, but scaled back his demands to a single season. After the Nats traded for Gio Gonzalez they appeared to lose interest in Oswalt, and he's since been linked to the Cardinals, Rangers and his old club, the Astros. He's 34 and has hinted in the past that he finds the idea of retirement appealing, which may explain the desire for a short-term commitment. Oswalt's career numbers are pretty solid - a .631 winning percentage with a 3.21 ERA in 326 starts. Is there still a glimmer of interest in Washington?
Jackson is somewhat enigmatic. He's only 28, and owns the distinction of being one of just a handful of players born in West Germany. He grew up in Georgia, and to date, has played for six, count 'em six, big league clubs already. He was 12-9, 3.79 with the White Sox and Cardinals in 2011, bringing his career totals to break-even: 60-60 with a 4.46 ERA, the mark of many "quality" starts, but really, nobody's top-of-the-rotation guy. He does rack up the innings, however. He's represented by Scott Boras, who was looking for a long-term deal at the outset, but now also seems willing to entertain a one-year contract so Jackson could be a free agent again next winter.
Would Jackson be a fit for the Nationals? Under the right circumstances, yes, but you'd almost think they'd have to trade one of their current arms to make room in the rotation. Is that worthwhile for a one-year fourth or fifth starter? Good question.
We're just a couple of weeks out from pitchers and catchers reporting to Viera. There are worse things than having a logjam in your rotation. Oswalt? Jackson? Your guess is as good as mine.
Update: Nats sign Jackson to a one-year deal worth north of $8 million, pending a physical. He figures to be the No. 4 starter as things look now. John Lannan lost his arbitration case, and figures to lose his spot in the Washington clubhouse as well. Several teams are interested in the Long Island lefty, and the Nationals would like to get an all-purpose type position player, someone who can play the infield and outfield, preferably.