- FanGraphs Baseball - http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs -

The Edwin Jackson Trade: Arizona’s Perspective

The Arizona Diamondbacks were panned last week for shipping Dan Haren and his team-friendly contract to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for an underwhelming return. While that trade could come back to bite the organization, the D-Backs managed to get good value today in sending Edwin Jackson to the Chicago White Sox for Daniel Hudson and David Holmberg.

Jackson, 26, was picked up by Arizona this past off-season (along with RHP Ian Kennedy) as part of a three-team trade that cost the club Max Scherzer and Daniel Schlereth. The former Dodger, Ray and Tiger signed a two-year deal in February that bought out his two remaining years of arbitration eligibility — Jackson’s earning $4.6 million this season and he’ll pull in $8.35 million in 2011. With Arizona buried in the standings, the team has decided to blow up the current roster instead of trying to fix weak spots around a strong nucleus of young talent. Jackson’s year-and-change of service time is being converted into cost-controlled talent in the form of Hudson and Holmberg.

A fifth-round pick out of Old Dominion in the 2005 draft, Hudson shot from Low-A ball to the majors in 2009 and rated 66th on Baseball America’s top 100 prospects lists prior to this season. The 6-4, 220 pound right-hander comes equipped with 92-93 MPH heat, a mid-80’s slider and a low-80’s changeup, as well as an occasional mid-70’s curve. Though the 23-year-old hasn’t found success in a small sample of big league pitching over the past two years (a 5.41 xFIP in 34.1 innings), he has 10.1 K/9, 3.1 BB/9 and a mid-three’s FIP in 117.1 IP at the Triple-A level.

Hudson doesn’t project as a top-of-the-rotation stud, and there are concerns over his fly ball tendencies (39.2 GB% in Triple-A). Still, the Diamondbacks get six seasons of team control over a MLB-ready starter who might not perform all that differently than Jackson right now. These projections came prior to the trade, but consider Hudson and Jackson’s rest-of-season forecasts from ZiPS:

Hudson: 7.02 K/9, 3.73 BB/9, 0.88 HR/9, 4.06 FIP
Jackson: 6.78 K/9, 3.62 BB/9, 0.94 HR/9, 4.16 FIP

Hudson might give up more homers than that — according to Minor League Splits, his work at Triple-A translates to more than a HR per nine and a 4.36 FIP in the show. Is that worth years of service time and millions of dollars to the Pale Hose, though? Perhaps the White Sox will use Jackson as part of another deal to acquire a bat. In this trade, they got the guy with greater name value and a bigger salary without necessarily getting much better.

In addition to Hudson, Arizona added a 19 year-old lefty in Holmberg. The 6-4, 220 pounder was Chicago’s second-round pick in the 2009 draft. Holmberg doesn’t get rave reviews for his physical build (BA compared him to a young David Wells in that regard) or his fastball, which sits in the upper-eighties. He does, however, possess a sharp curveball and changeup. Holmberg’s professional experience is scarce, as he has tossed 80.1 innings in rookie ball over the past two years with 7.4 K/9, 3 BB/9, a 4.38 FIP and a ground ball rate slightly above 50 percent. He’s not a great prospect, but Arizona could have something if his velocity creeps up a bit.

The Diamondbacks have to be pleased with their haul for Jackson — they got younger and cheaper, perhaps without surrendering anything in terms of on-field performance in the present.