Missed this the other day, but since it’s “collect every tenuous rumor” season around here, may as well add it to the pile: the Yankees met with Edwin Jackson’s agent the other day for “preliminary discussions.”
Not too interesting in and of itself. The Yankees need pitching so they’re obviously going to talk to tons of pitchers, partially out of interest, partially to signal to the guys they are interested in that they have other options. Conversations with Jackson’s people could be a Mark Buehrle or C.J. Wilson negotiating ploy. Frankly, that kind of stuff interests me way more than actually considering Edwin Jackson pitching in New York.
At some point someone should write the definitive book about the hot stove season. How it works, collecting war stories. Getting people to dish on all of the crazy stuff that actually happens in negotiations. We often get standalone stories like that after a big signing — “inside the Carl Crawford negotiation!” — but I’d read 300 pages about that kind of thing if it was out there, wouldn’t you?
Anyway, Jackson is 28 and has electric stuff that sometimes looks awesome and sometimes looks terrible. He’s one of those dudes who has already pitched for a zillion teams and I imagine he’ll be in Kenny Lofton/Matt Stairs territory before it’s all done. I have a hard time seeing him in pinstripes on a four-year deal.
To the surprise of, well, very few, the Mariners didn’t make the cut for the postseason this year. While they threw their hats in the ring for a wild card berth, their pitching staff just couldn’t stay healthy, from the handful of pitchers who contracted season-ending injuries in spring training to Felix Hernandez‘s shoulder bursitis to structural damage in Hisashi Iwakuma‘s right shoulder. Left-hander James Paxton missed 79 days with a lingering head cold, strained left forearm and pectoral strain. Heading into the 2018 season, the lefty told MLB.com’s Greg Johns that he plans to “nerd out big-time” in order to prepare for a healthy, consistent run with the club.
So far, Johns reports, that entails a new diet and workout program, hot yoga sessions and blood testing. “I just think there’s more I can do,” Paxton said. “I haven’t done the blood testing before. Finding out if there’s something I don’t know about myself. It’s just about learning and trying to find what works for me.”
When healthy, the 28-year-old southpaw was lights-out for the Mariners. He helped stabilize the front end of the rotation with a 12-5 record in 24 starts and supplemented his efforts with a 2.98 ERA, 2.4 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 136 innings. Despite taking multiple trips to the disabled list, he built up 4.6 fWAR — the most wins above replacement he’s compiled in any season of his career to date. Had he not been felled by a pectoral injury in mid-August — one that came with a five-week trip to the disabled list — the club might have been been able to make a bigger push for the playoffs.
Of course, even if Paxton manages to stay healthy next season, the Mariners still have the rest of the rotation to worry about. They cycled through 17 starters in 2017 and tied the 2014 Rangers with 40 total pitchers over the course of the season. Per GM Jerry Dipoto, their top four starters (Paxton, Hernandez, Iwakuma, and Tommy John candidate Drew Smyly) only contributed 17% of total innings pitched, just a tad below the 40% average. Finding adequate big league arms and compensating for injured aces (both current and former) will be tough. Still, getting a healthy, dominant Paxton back on the mound for 30+ starts would be a huge get for the team — whether or not the postseason is in their future next year.