MLB Rumors: Toronto Blue Jays Set Sights On Edwin Jackson?

By Thom Tsang

With this year’s MLB winter meetings set to take place, the Toronto Blue Jays certainly have their work cut out for them – at least, as far as laying the groundwork for potential roster additions are concerned.

The team needs an outfielder (no, Rajai Davis is not the answer). It probably needs a second baseman. Maybe even a first baseman.

Most of all, the team has to bolster a broken starting rotation for 2013 to even think about taking a shot at contending for the playoffs. So, Alex Anthopoulos will take the team’s search for a good arm or two to Indian Wells, California with targets in place, and with a different mandate: one that stresses adding and completing, rather than rebuilding.

We’ve covered some likely names on the Blue Jays potential want-list before: guys like Shaun Marcum (not happening, apparently) and Anibal Sanchez. The latest member on this carousel of pitchers to be targeted in the media? Edwin Jackson.

ESPN’s Jim Bowden, in his yearly analysis piece pairing a top-50 free agent with a likely home in the bigs, suggests that the Blue Jays seem to be the “most interested” in Jackson’s services. Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi also thought the former Washington Nationals pitcher might be in Toronto’s plans, pointing out that the team scouted both Jackson and Sanchez “extensively during the season”. Bowden has Jackson pegged for a three-year, $30-million deal; at that number, is that something that would be worthwhile for the Blue Jays to pursue?

More so than Sanchez, I’d say. The key factor for comes down to sample size: Jackson has plenty of AL experience, particularly against teams in Toronto’s division. In 320.2 IP against the AL East, Jackson has put up a palatable 4.24 ERA and 1.35 WHIP, while striking out batters at a 6.83 clip per nine innings.  In comparison, Sanchez has only thrown 63.2 innings against the East, and the numbers aren’t pretty: 6.12 ERA, 1.57 WHIP, 6.17 K/9. In this case of small sample of poor performance vs bigger sample of pedestrian performance, I think I’ll take the latter.

Either way, I think the fact that this particular FA class lacks depth in “impact” options to help the Blue Jays is starting to emerge.  Even if the team was able to sign both players (which wouldn’t be a bad haul for the winter), it’s debatable whether that would push them close enough to contention; sure, they’d have a couple of extra arms to eat innings, which is valuable in itself…but as far as adding enough wins to get the team to a playoff spot? That’s another story.

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