The Cardinals were going to pay Albert Pujols around $25 million a year. They didn’t get Pujols and signed Carlos Beltran for $13 million a year over two years. There is still $12 million left over from the offer to Pujols. Should the Cardinals put that money aside for a few years down the road or spend it now? I say spend it now and bring back Edwin.
Right now the Cardinals rotation is Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, Jaime Garcia, Kyle Lohse and Jake Westbrook. Edwin Jackson is better than Lohse or Westbrook. He’s younger and has more talent than either of them. The Cardinals were looking to trade either one to make payroll room for Pujols, so why not trade either one of them, and eat a little bit of the contract and re-sign Edwin Jackson? Lohse will make a little over $12 million in 2012, while Westbrook will make $8 million. Lohse is a free agent after 2012 while Westbrook has an option for 2013.
Yes, Edwin Jackson is approaching Octavio Dotel territory in the amount of teams he has played with. Yes, his career record is 60-60. No, he wasn’t good in the postseason posting a 1-1 record with a 5.60 ERA. Here’s the thing though, Lohse will be 33 this year and Westbrook will be 34, while Jackson will be 28 years old. There’s reason to believe with Jackson that his best years will be coming up while Lohse and Westbrook will start to decline. Jaime Garcia is the only starting pitcher under 30 in the current rotation, so it would help to inject a little youth to it.
Jackson in 13 games for the Cardinals last year went 5-2 with a 3.58 ERA. He’s thrown over 180 innings per season every year since 2008. With Scott Boras as his agent, the Cardinals, or any team who wants to sign him, will have to pay a premium for him, possibly in the Oliver Perez contract range of three years $36 million. Might that be too much for a pitcher like Jackson? Maybe, but as we all know, everyone needs pitching, and sometimes players who may not deserve that kind of money end up getting it anyway.
If the Cardinals were to give him that type of deal, they would be paying Jackson and Lohse the same amount of money for the 2012 season. My money would be on Jackson to have the better season. He has better stuff than Lohse and another season under the tutoring of Dave Duncan will only increase his ability. The Cardinals probably wouldn’t have to eat that much of Lohse’s contract depending on where they traded him to and could get a decent prospect or two in return.
Do I think the Cardinals will do this? No. Would it help them in 2012? I believe so.