Edwin Jackson’s Value

4 Jan

There are 3 reasons why Edwin Jackson is about to make a bunch of money: he’s an above-average pitcher; he’s in his prime; Scott Boras is his agent. Boras, according to an a study by baseballprospectus.com, earns his clients an extra 14 percent over market value, and in-prime above-average pitchers never sign for less than 10 million a year for fewer than 3 years. Making 3 years 34 million a minimum after the Boras factor. But the market for starting pitching may be collapsing after the signings of CJ Wilson, Mark Buehrle, and many of the bargain options. Jackson is at risk of becoming the next Johnny Damon, and ending up with less money and fewer years than projected.

Once a top prospect, 8 years and 6 teams later, he is more of an innings eater than ace. While he’ll probably never be an elite pitcher, he is valuable, averaging 207 innings and a 3.94 era over the last 3 years.

A reputation for petchulant behavior on the mound, having never progressed as a pitcher, and frequently changing teams has made Jackson a somewhat unfairly undervalued commodity. He has improved his on-mound composure, he should not be judged for what he was supposed to have been and had no control over where played. GM’s must know that Jackson has great potential to exceed his perceived value…but Scott Boras, one of his now infamous promotional books, and a 5 year 60 million dollar asking price have prevented any team from signing him on the cheap.

My personal projection of his worth over the next 5 years is:

Age

Price Per Win

WAR

Total

28

4.5

4.0

18

29

4.8

3.5

17

30

5.2

3.5

18

31

5.6

3.0

17

32

6.0

2.5

15

5 years and 85 millions sounds way off at first sight, and no team is going to pay close to that. However, according to Fangraphs.com WAR, Jackson has been worth an average of 3.7 wins over the last 3 years which would equate to over 53 million in the next 3 years of free agent value, making 85 million over 5 years seem more reasonable.

Jackson would fit in best with a team ready to win now, that can afford luxury purchases like high-end innings eaters, like the now supposedly thrifty Yankees and Red Sox. Or a team like Nationals or Blue Jays that are growing into a playoff contender. Jackson, unlike Wilson or Buerhle, is in his prime and should not steeply decline over the course of his contract.

The question now is can Boras pull off a deal like he did last year for Rafeal Soriano, where he was able to land a big contract after many believed the market had collapsed? Or will Jackson end up looking foolish donning the jersey of a team he didn’t want to play for at a contract length and value below the market, like Johnny Damon had to with Detroit?

Despite his unfavorable reputation and the lack of suitors, I believe Edwin Jackson will sign a big contract. Why? Because I believe in certain truths. Scott Boras is fuckin’ great at what he does; you can never have enough pitching; large market teams are never thrifty; and there is always a mystery team.

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