The Chicago Cubs and President Theo Epstein recently opened up the locked coffers to sign SP Edwin Jackson to a 4 year, $52 million contract. Theo has made it clear that the Cubs won’t be going out for top flight free agents anytime soon, but signing a solid #3 that can consistently eat up 200 innings a year is a great signing for the rebuilding Chicago franchise.
Comparing Jackson’s contract to those of other pitchers signed this off-season is favorable for the Cubs. Jackson is making roughly $12.5 million/year on this contract and won’t limit the Cubs financial flexibility in coming seasons if the rebuilding effort stays on track. More importantly, this gives the Cubs an air of desire to possible free agents. It shows free agents that despite the rebuilding, the Cubs will bring in talent at fair market contracts if they think that player can help them bridge the gap. Given Theo’s track record, an aging free agent in the coming seasons would be smart to sign with the Cubs, knowing if they contribute, they could ride the future coat tails of the team to become immortalized in Chicago as a part of the team that brought the World Series back to the Cubs.
Epstein is also taking a calculated risk with the signing of Edwin Jackson, he is a pitcher that has been a solid starter the last few seasons but, even at age 29, still has upside to be a high end #2 starter in MLB. With that possibility comes a great opportunity for the Cubs to sell high on Jackson some point during the next couple seasons. They could get a nice few prospects in return for Jackson next year if he has a good year and a half on the mound. If the front office does decide to hold onto Jackson though, his signing gives them flexibility to trade their top flight ace in Matt Garza. Without Jackson, the idea of trading Garza is a lot more stressful because it would cause a much bigger gap in Chicago’s starting 5.
The Chicago Cubs have been deliberate this off-season and not gone over their caps they set on player values. That is important for a rebuilding franchise in the free agent market, you get no discounts on the free agent market because you’re paying full price, or possibly more, for a player you want. The Cubs are taking the rights steps to bridge the gap between now and the future of competing every year in October. The starting rotation hasn’t gotten any better at the top of the rotation this year, but after last years problems with depth that crushed them late in the season, the added depth will be of the most importance. Edwin Jackson is just the type of pitcher to keep Chicago from another 100 loss season while the Cubs do what they can to get to October ASAP.