There has been much speculation about what the Rays will do with Edwin Jackson. Let’s assume for the moment that the Rays do not trade Andy Sonnanstine and both Sonny and David Price are in the rotation at the end of Spring Training. The Rays would then have two options. Trade Jackson or more him to the bullpen.
If Jackson is moved to the bullpen, one factor that has been ignored so far is cost. Jackson is arbitration-eligible for the first time. Taking a look at starting pitchers that were arbitration-eligible for the first time last season, Jackson will make $2.5-3 million in 2009 if he goes to arbitration or signs a one-year contract. Jackson is coming off a season in which he was 14-11 with a 101 ERA+. Last year, Dave Bush was coming off a season in which he went 12-10 with a 88 ERA+. Bush signed a one-year deal for $2.55 million. Joe Blanton, signed a one-year deal for $3.7 million after going 14-10 with a 106 ERA+. However, Blanton had a stronger resume prior to arbitration-eligibility than Jackson. Daniel Cabrera, signed a one-year deal for $2.875 million after going 9-18 with an 83 ERA+.
On the contrary, relief pitchers in their first year of arbitration-eligibility signed one-year deals for $0.8-1.2 million in most cases. Aaron Heilman, who was coming off a strong 2007 season (140 ERA+, 1.070 WHIP), and pitches in a role comparable to what Jackson would be for the Rays, signed a one-year deal for $1.2 million.
Therefore, if Jackson is moved to the bullpen, the Rays will pay have to pay him 2-3 times the salary of a comparable fourth-year relief pitcher, without even knowing if Jackson will be effective out of the bullpen.
So the question that needs to be asked is: Are the Rays willing to pay $2.5-3 million for Jackson to be a middle reliever, with the hopes that he could someday become an effective closer, or would they prefer a player in that slot that makes $0.5-1 million with little or no upside, but may be more effective than Jackson in 2009?
DEVIL DOGS WEBTOPIA…
- Posts over the next few days will be limited. Have a Happy Thanksgiving and safe travels.
- An interesting take on how the Rays’ 10 years of sucktitude, followed by sudden success mirrored a similar run by the Democratic Party. [The League of Nations]
- Here is a roundup of some of the top talent available in the Rule 5 draft, a list that includes two Rays. [MLB Trade Rumors]
- David Chalk just keeps churning out the “Your Sportsmen Ain’t S#!t” posts. [Bugs and Cranks]
- The Examiner takes a look at catching prospect Matt Spring. [The Examiner]