WASHINGTON (AP) — The Nationals are heading to spring training with what appears to be one of the deepest starting staffs in the major leagues.
Edwin Jackson agreed Thursday to a one-year contract with Washington, a deal that gives the Nationals seven potential starting pitchers.
“We saw an opportunity here to acquire a young, hard-throwing, power-pitching, innings-eating type of starting pitcher, and we thought it was good value at a good term,” general manager Mike Rizzo said during a telephone conference call.
Washington said the agreement is pending a physical. The deal is worth in the range of $9 million to $12 million.
There are seven candidates for the Nationals’ starting rotation, a group that includes holdovers Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, John Lannan, Chien-Ming Wang and Ross Detwiler, along with Jackson and Gio Gonzalez, acquired from Oakland in December.
But Strasburg missed most of last season following elbow-ligament surgery in September 2010, Wang returned last July after missing two years because of right shoulder surgery and is coming off a career-high 161 1-3 innings.
“We felt that we had an innings shortage,” Rizzo said. “Out of the eight playoff teams last year, six of those eight teams had two 200-plus inning pitchers.”
Still, Washington could trade a pitcher for a center fielder or leadoff hitter.
A 28-year-old right-hander, Jackson was 12-9 with a 3.79 ERA last season for the Chicago White Sox and World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals, who acquired him on July 27. He is 60-60 in a nine-season career that also included stints with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Tampa Bay and the Chicago White Sox.
Control has been a problem throughout his career. He walked seven against Texas in a Game 4 loss at the World Series, the most in a Series outing in 14 years. His eight walks for Arizona at Tampa Bay on June 25, 2010, were one shy of the record for a no-hitter
Still, he cut free passes from a career high of 88 in 2007 to 78 in 2010 and 62 last year.
“His walks are trending in the right direction,” Rizzo said.
Jackson had a .339 opponents batting average with no one on base and a .239 average with runners on base, an indication he was struggling out of the windup.
“We’re going to make a few tweaks to his delivery,” Rizzo said. “Last year he was a different pitcher out of the windup than he was from the stretch.”
Scott Boras, Jackson’s agent, originally was seeking a three-to-five-year deal. The Nationals got involved in talks about 10 days ago when the desired length dropped.
“It made it much more palatable to us,” Rizzo said.
Notes: Washington defeated Lannan in baseball’s first salary arbitration decision this year. The left-hander will receive the club’s offer of $5 million rather than his request for $5.7 million. … Jackson becomes yet another Boras client to join the Nationals, following Strasburg, Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth.
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