Visualizing Edwin Jackson’s Trade History

Edwin Jackson is a pitcher everyone wants to acquire, but then seemingly can’t wait to unload as soon as possible.

Or at least, that’s the impression you get from looking at his trade history. Jackson has been traded six times over the course of his career, with five of those trades happening within the last three years. He’s been traded for exciting prospects, not exciting prospects, an enigmatic center fielder, a powerful outfielder with platoon issues, and a multitude of relief pitchers. He’s 27-years-old and has yet to become a free agent, but he’s already been on seven different teams in his career. For comparison, Ricky Henderson — the prototypical man-of-many-hats — only played on nine different teams over the course of his entire career.

As Jackson was at the heart of the recent Colby Rasmus trade, I wanted to take another look at all the place he’s been. So without further ado, I present to you my pitiful, Paint-tastic attempt to visualize Edwin Jackson’s full trade history (click to enlarge):

The teams listed are the ones that acquired Jackson in a trade, and the players listed are the players that team gave up to acquire him. The trades are listed in chronological order, and I also included how much WAR Jackson produced at each stop along the way.

This way, the chart can show you three things: what players a team gave up to acquire Jackson, how much he produced while with that team, and what that team got back in return for Jackson when they eventually traded him away. For example, you can see that the Rays acquired Jackson back in 2006 for Lance Carter and Danys Baez. He stuck around with them — producing 3.0 WAR in the process — until he was traded to the Tigers in 2008 for Matt Joyce.

I’ll let the graphic stand by itself, expect for one final thought: the White Sox got plenty of production from Jackson while he was in Chicago, but man, those are two disappointing trades. They gave up much more to acquire him than they received in return, despite the fact that Jackson has only gotten better and better these past few years. That’s a job well done.

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Steve is the editor-in-chief of DRaysBay and the keeper of the FanGraphs Library. You can follow him on Twitter at @steveslow.

39 Responses to “Visualizing Edwin Jackson’s Trade History”

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  1. Pat says:

    The baseball season hasn’t officially begun until Edwin Jackson gets traded.

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  2. Jeff says:

    The D-Backs got Ian Kennedy (at least) in that Jackson involved trade w/ Detroit and New York.

    Also interesting would be to see how much WAR was given up by each team acquiring Jackson. For instance, since it only involved Matt Joyce, I looked to see that the Tigers got 3.5 WAR from Jackson in 2009, and traded (conveniently) 3.5 WAR from Matt Joyce (2009-Present). For only 2009, when Jackson was in a Detroit uni, it was 3.5 WAR for -.2 WAR.

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    • Yeah, the three-way trade was tough to visualize. I chose to stay true to the rest of the chart, showing all the players the Tigers got back in that trade and listing the Granderson bit on the bottom. The D’backs did get Ian Kennedy from the Yanks in that deal, but it wasn’t directly involving Jackson so it was tougher to show.

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  3. Dre says:

    Very misleading to somehow include AJackson and Coke in the Arizona side of the trade. Also would want to include that Arizona received Ian Kennedy in that trade with Jackson.

    From AZ’s side, they gave up Scherzer and Schlereth for Kennedy and Jackson.

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  4. bluejaysstatsgeek says:

    Anyone want an Edwin Jackson Jay’s uniform?

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  5. SP Ver2.0 says:

    Sigh. Don’t remind us. We’re already depressed in Chicago about our offense.

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  6. Horned Owl says:

    Can’t forget how much Mark Teahen weighed down the value of the ChiSox package.

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  7. AndyS says:

    I thought Kenny Lofton was the prototypical man of many hats…

    I heard he’s going to be playing for Japan.

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    • Kenny Lofton was in Cleveland on Sunday signing at Progressive Field for season-ticket holders. He got a phone call during the session, I’m pretty sure it was Brian Sabean.

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      • AA says:

        If the Dodgers had resigned Lofton to a cheap deal in the 2006-2007 off-season, when he could still play, the albatross of Juan Pierre’s contract would have never existed and they might have made the playoffs.

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  8. D4P says:

    Lance Carter and Danys Baez make me guffaw in an audible manner.

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  9. soxfan says:

    i didn’t like the recent trade for frasor/stewart, but the primary motivation was most likely that it was a salary dump, is there anyway for the visual to account for that?

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  10. Steve says:

    For comparison, Ricky Henderson — the prototypical man-of-many-hats — only played on nine different teams over the course of his entire career.

    True, but he played on the A’s like 7 different times….

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  11. CircleChange11 says:

    Edwin Jackson has accumulated 13 WAR over his career, while earning $16M.

    So, he basically get $1.3M per WAR. Compared to the average of 4 to 4/5M/WAR, he’s been an incredible bargain.

    He’s really only been “good” over the last 3 years, where he’s been as good as pitchers that have a lot more reputation.

    Over the last 3 years, he’ll likely finish up with 11 WAR for $12M … again an incredible bargain.

    My perception is that FG dislikes the guy/player, which I don’t understand. I don;t know if it’s because he’s primarily seen as a Tiger or White Sox or what.

    But, here’s why I don’t understand ….

    Why aren’t GMs derided for trading him? He’s a great value. He produces far more than his salary would warrant. He’s paid like a league average pitcher or below, and he produces well above that.

    I’m trying to figure out why he isn’t valued more, because he’s shown that he’s not a fluke. Is it because he hasn’t pitched for more visible teams? Only pitched 2 relief stints in the post-season (TB in 2008)?

    We’re always looking for “market inefficiencies” and here seems to be a big one. Is he marginalized because he is not perceived to have elite talent/stuff?

    I’m not trying to be intentionally obtuse or go against the grain, but it just doesn’t “add up” to me.

    Here’s a guy that we should be touting as a great value, a real bargain, and well, a pretty darn good pitcher. Yet, the articles over the recent years speak negatively about the teams acquiring him.

    What am I missing about Edwin Jackson (if for no other reason than I’ll stop talking about it). It really has me puzzled as to why he is not appreciated for being a great value to his team(s).

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    • James says:

      I think GMs don’t get derided for trading him because he’s generally brought back a good return (typically young, semi-proven, cost controlled MLB ready players as opposed to low level prospects that flame out), which could be why there may be more negative articles about the teams acquiring him (due to the perceived quality of what they gave up). As for Ken Williams, he has bigger problems on his hands (namely Dunn, Rios & Peavy contracts, and the black holes at 3B and LF), and I believe the media may have given up on deriding him because (1) he’s relatively outspoken with them and provides plenty of material and (2) Reinsdorf is loyal to a fault so he’s not going anywhere.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        From that standpoint he’s seems to be even MORE valuable.

        In another thread someone asked why he gets traded so much, and it’s a good question. My response was that “he has trade value”. As you mentioned he brings back prospects/value in return.

        So, from a GM standpoint, he seems incredibly valuable. When I’m pitching deficient, I can use him to pitch quality innings for a good value and once pitching is a strength, I can trade him for prospects in the areas I’m weak in.

        Granted he’s never going to be (perceptionwise) a 1-2 pitcher. I primarily started looking into him once my team (Cardinals) acquired him. He’s been as valuable over the last 2 seasons as Carpenter and Garcia. So, in the absence of Wainwright, he could be anywhere from a 1-3 starter on a potential playoff team. I haven’t looked up all the numbers, but I’m guessing the average 1-3 starting pitcher on a potential playoff team makes quite a bit more than 8M/y (his 2011 salary).

        Does being traded so often affect our perception of his talent or value?

        I ask simply because if you strip away the names/teams and look at him as if he were “in the Matrix” (just numbers), he’s been a very good value to the teams he’s pitched on over the last 3 years. Teams that need pitching are able to acquire him readily, and then trade him for good value.

        I’m actually hoping StL can resign him for something in the 10M/y range for 3-4 years. Jackson with Lohse or Westbrook’s contract is a great value.

        I keep thinking that I must be missing something. But, the more I look, the more I wonder.

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    • While he has been a bargain, the $4.5 per WAR you cite as “average” is actually the price of a win above replacement *on the free market, aka free agency*. For players who are not eligible for free agency, the average $$ per WAR is much less.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        True. I was just using the same figures and methodology that we use to illustrate “surplus value”.

        To get a 3.5 WAR pitcher, you can either trade for Jackson and pay him 4M in 2010 or 8M in 2011, or sign a FA for 12-14M/y.

        It’ll be interesting to see what the market for EJ will be in the offseason.

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      • Felonius_Monk says:

        As he’s the best pitcher available in free agency (IIRC), is durable, still only 27/28 and a Boras client, I’m pretty sure Jackson will be paid handsomely. I’d think it’d be north of the Lohse deal, and rightly so.

        I’m guessing he gets $12m+ and at least 4 years, perhaps 5. I’d suspect something in the region of 5yr/$60m.

        Personally, I think the Cardinals might actually be best served letting Jackson AND Carpenter walk, after offering both arbitration. Carp’s a type A and Jackson a type B, so that’s a LOT of draft picks. I’d be personally keener on Carpenter on a 2/20m deal or something than Jackson long-term, though, and I’m pretty sure E-Jax is viewed as a pure rental in St Louis.

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    • MikeS says:

      I think GM’s fall in love with his “Stuff” then fall out of love with his approach to pitching a game. They tire of seeing him at 100 pitches in the fifth inning on a regular basis and taxing the bullpen. They also get maddened by “inconsistency” as demonstrated very well by his first two starts for your Cardinals. They don’t see why, with that stuff, he can’t be a front of the rotation guy. I think it’s similar to Javier Vasquez.

      I’m not saying they are right, just that it might be the explanation.

      Also, two of those teams acquired him to flip him for somebody else – the Jays for Rasmus (successfully) and the White Sox for Dunn (unsuccessfully). As a White Sox fan, I’ve been living in a very nice parallel universe lately where they completed that trade, brought on Dunn and he was awful, so they never signed him. They used the money they saved to sign Adrian Beltre, moved Quentin to DH and let Viciedo blossom. Of course, in the same parallel reality, Alex Rios didn’t lose interest in being a baseball player and Juan Pierre retired.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        It’s possible about Jackson. I felt/feel the same way about Scherzer.

        Hilarious on the alternate reality for the White Sox.

        As for that cardinals game … 4 HRA by Jackson (yikes), but check this … the 8-9-1-2 hitters for StL were 8-for-17. Pujols and Holliday were 0-for-9.

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      • MikeS says:

        Don’t knock my fantasy. The White Sox are on pace for 92 wins and an easy division title. With their pitching they stand a very good chance in the post-season too. Mother says I should go outside but I tell her it’s very nice in here. Very nice.

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      • MGD says:

        I think this is definitely the case.

        As much as GM KW does have to do his best to make calls that are in the team’s overall best interest – he also has to sit through each game. I agree it is not necessarily right at all, but throwing what seems like 2 innings’ worth of pitches each inning is not always easy to watch

        Also I remember seeing some interview with EJ where he was talking about how much he loves batting. Maybe the AL managers are just trying to do him a favor ;-)

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  12. gdc says:

    Mike Morgan
    6 trades, 1 rule 5 draft, 12 different teams representing all 6 MLB divisions from 1978-2002. Trivia question: Which is the only team he had two stints with?

    Ken Brett also went to all the current divisions but “only” played for 10 teams from 1967-1981, 10 years less than Morgan (both debuted in the year they were 18, compared to Jackson’s 19)

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  13. TheBigDawg says:

    I have always wondered why he can’t stick with a team. He is a positive player on the stat sheet but what is he doing in the clubhouse that gets him sent on his way very quickly? If he is such a quality player at such a bargain price, why doesn’t he stick on anyone’s roster?

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  14. Dan says:

    Enlarge? I;m not sure what you are saying, but when I click the picture it definitely embiggens.

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  15. Eminor3rd says:

    Part of the reason the White Sox got so little in return is because they traded him in his walk year. Edwin has come with cost-controllability in every previous trade. Rentals just don’t bring as much.

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  16. Tim_the_Beaver says:

    *Rickey. sorry, A’s fans yell a lot for misspelling that so it’s drilled in my head.

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  17. designated quitter says:

    Nobody knows what goes on in the clubhouse except the players and coaches.
    But when a pitcher gets shown the door as often as Jackson, there are two likely possibilties:
    1) The pitching coach thought he could ‘straighten out’ flaws in his delivery but couldn’t (because the player is either uncoachable or that wasn’t the problem); or

    2) The player is a complete pain in the ass (See: ManRam).

    Don’t know, but suspect it’s one or the other.

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    • Chris says:

      “1) The pitching coach thought he could ‘straighten out’ flaws in his delivery but couldn’t (because the player is either uncoachable or that wasn’t the problem); or

      2) The player is a complete pain in the ass (See: ManRam).

      Don’t know, but suspect it’s one or the other.”

      With a player producing this much WAR at a discount, there is nothing to fix.

      Could it be racial? I’m just saying. In a “perfect market”, a player with this sort of value (especially pitching), should stick somewhere. This makes no sense and is an absolute aberration to the norm. Racism creates market inefficiencies…this could explain what we are seeing here.

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      • Anthony says:

        Yah, maybe that’s the issue with Scott Baker not starting too….

        Put that card back in the deck.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        I have rarely, if ever, known of a case of a black athlete with a bad attitude that went unreported. If anything, it’s over-reported.

        Sabermetric teams (and others) went crazy over Milton Bradley (multiple times), a known batshit crazy player. Jackson is nowhere near that.

        That teams aren’t giving him extended seasons and/or an extension is beyond me.

        I would think that 3 years of 3+ WAR/y is consistency enough to be a known value.

        Teams may not want to give him money because he doesn’t have the probability of a 5 WAR season in there … but then that doesn’t account for the likes of Kyle Lohse and Jake Westbrook, which are aplenty in baseball.

        I’m normally all over the racial stuff, especially money involved in Latin players, etc … but (and maybe I’m wrong), I don’t see it as a race issue.

        My main commentary has been toward within, as in why our FG community, which is based on objective statistical analysis, doesn’t point out EJ’s HUGE value in terms of WAR/$.

        We keep running out articles about market inefficiencies and blah, blah, blah … and here one is right under our nose. Well yeah, the market is “One Jackson” big, but that’s still a market. *grin*

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      • Say Hey Kid says:

        I know no one wants to hear that racism does exist…but it does…the cards are all on the floor and never have been in the deck.

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  18. CircleChange11 says:

    Scott Baker is another interesting situation.

    Finding similarities between Baker, jackson, and a group of pitchers “like them” may be the next market inefficiency.

    I’m gonna do some looking into this …

    Pitchers that have ~7+ K/9, ~3> BB/9, ~1.10 HR/9 … and put up quite a few innings.

    While only on “paper”, one might be able to collect a starting rotation (or a couple of them) that produces 15 WAR for $30M/y. I’ll take it.

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  19. El Rey says:

    You guys are all deceived by his WAR. He’s not that good of a pitcher, at least not consistently. The teams that acquire him look at his WAR and stuff and take a chance. The teams that trade him away are tired of watching him pitch

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