Cubs sign Edwin Jackson to four-year, $52 million deal

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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.

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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.

Blue Jays release John Axford

John Axford
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The Blue Jays have released right-handed reliever John Axford from his minor league contract, per an announcement on Saturday. Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi speculates that the move could provide an avenue for the club to rework Axford’s contract, but the Blue Jays have yet to confirm or deny the report.

Axford, 35, was dealt a blow on Thursday after getting diagnosed with a stress reaction in the olecranon bone of his right elbow. Elbow soreness dogged the right-hander through much of his time in camp, and although he was scheduled for a follow-up examination later this spring, a definite return date had not been established.

Prior to the diagnosis, Axford was tabbed for a setup role with the team in 2019. He pitched to mixed results in 2018 (thanks in part to a late-season fracture of his right fibula) with a 5.27 ERA, 4.9 BB/9, and 9.8 SO/9 through 54 2/3 innings with the Blue Jays and Dodgers. Now, however, it’s not certain that he’ll return to the mound this season in any capacity.

Axford isn’t the only reliever the Blue Jays have lost to injury lately, either, as right-handers Ryan Tepera and Bud Norris have been sidelined with right elbow inflammation and forearm fatigue, respectively. Per Davidi, the Blue Jays offered Norris a $100,000 retention bonus to prevent him from opting out of the minor league contract he signed in February.