UPDATE: Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com reports that it’s a done deal at four years and $52 million, with an official announcement coming once Jackson passes a physical exam.
Late last night the Cubs were said to be the “frontrunner” for Edwin Jackson and now Buster Olney of ESPN.com reports that the two sides are closing in on a four-year, $52 million deal.
After failing to land a huge contract as a free agent last offseason Jackson opted for a one-year, $11 million deal from the Nationals, who oddly did not make him a one-year, $13.3 million qualifying offer that would have guaranteed them a first-round draft pick when he signed elsewhere. Instead the Nationals replaced him with Dan Haren for one year, $13 million and will now let Jackson walk for nothing.
Jackson’s numbers were similar to 2011, but for whatever reason he drew significantly more interest this time around. His overall production and strikeout rates have never quite matched his raw stuff, but Jackson’s started at least 30 games in six straight seasons despite being just 29 years old.
During the past three seasons he made 94 starts and threw 599 innings with a 4.10 ERA. Over that same period Anibal Sanchez–who the Cubs reportedly thought they had signed for five years and $75 million–made 95 starts and threw 587 innings with a 3.70 ERA. Given those numbers and the fact that Sanchez was helped by more pitcher-friendly environments $52 million for Jackson seems reasonable after Sanchez got $80 million from the Tigers.
A report from the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly suggests that free agent catcher Welington Castillo currently tops the Orioles’ list of potential backstop targets for the 2017 season. With Matt Wieters on the market, the Orioles lack a suitable platoon partner for Caleb Joseph behind the dish, and Connolly adds that the club has been discussing a multi-year deal with Castillo’s representatives since the Winter Meetings.
Castillo batted .264/.322/.423 with the Diamondbacks in 2016, racking up 14 home runs and driving in a career-high 68 RBI in 457 PA. His bat provides much of his upside, and Connolly quoted an anonymous National League scout who believes that the 29-year-old’s defensive profile has fallen short of his potential in recent years.
For better or worse, both the Orioles and Castillo appear far from locking in a deal for 2017. Both the Rays and Braves have expressed interest in the veteran catcher during the past week, while the Orioles are reportedly considering Wieters, Nick Hundley and Chris Iannetta as alternatives behind the plate.
The Phillies reportedly signed veteran outfielder Daniel Nava to a minor league contract, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Nava began the season on a one-year contract with the Angels, during which he slashed .235/.309/.303 through 136 PA in the first half of 2016. He was flipped to the Royals in late August for a player to be named later and saw the remainder of his year go down the drain on an .091 average through 12 PA in Anaheim. After getting the boot from the Angels’ 40-man roster in November, the 33-year-old outfielder elected free agency.
Nava is expected to compete for a bench role on the Phillies’ roster in the spring. As it currently stands, the club’s projected 2017 outfield features Howie Kendrick and Odubel Herrera, with precious little depth behind them. Nava’s bat is underwhelming, but at the very least he offers the Phillies a warm body in left field and a potential platoon partner for one of their younger options, a la Tyler Goeddel or Roman Quinn.