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.

We hoped you liked reading The Edwin Jackson Trade: Arizona’s Perspective by David Golebiewski!

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A recent graduate of Duquesne University, David Golebiewski is a contributing writer for Fangraphs, The Pittsburgh Sports Report and Baseball Analytics. His work for Inside Edge Scouting Services has appeared on ESPN.com and Yahoo.com, and he was a fantasy baseball columnist for Rotoworld from 2009-2010. He recently contributed an article on Mike Stanton's slugging to The Hardball Times Annual 2012. Contact David at david.golebiewski@gmail.com and check out his work at Journalist For Hire.

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CircleChange11
Guest
CircleChange11

There’s a lot of “might performs” in this article, and well, all articles regarding prospects.

Given the high non-success rate of prospects, when are we going to start “waiting until we see something at the ML level” before we start casting them as “equal performers” to established MLB regulars?

Obviously the CWS got Jackson to trade to WSN for AD44, who they really want.

Evaluating these trades, at this point, is dumb.

Maybe I’m misinterpreting something, but why do I get the feeling that the name of the GM/team affects the review? I keep getting this feeling that if it were “Name of SABR-friendly GM”, the review would be along the lines of “great trade, to be flipped for Adam Dunn, while only giuving up a prospect whose repitoire screams ‘reliever’ and not mid-rotation starter.”

I am, or was, a big Hudson fan, but you need 3 decent pitches to be a good starter, and he doesn’t have them (at least based on the last info I saw/read). We keep looking at these guys as if their “potential” were their ability. we keep acting like their development will proceed in a “everything goes right world”, when we know it won’t. It’s why they’re so many busts for prospects. Some see cameron maybin and think Willie Mays, without ever considering it might just be Corey Patterson (or worse). We see prospects and immeditaley catapult their value to being the “ceiling of their potential” even though they’ll likely never get close to it. I do agree, however, that their team friendly contracts allow them to under-perform for most teams, and still be of great value.

All we need to do annually, ios go back and read prospect reports 5 yers ago, and see just how many guys were “suppossed to be really good”.

Dan Hudson may actually turn out to be a good starter, but the CWS aren’t playing for 3 years from now, nor are they looking to start a borderline quality (as of now) rookie in a pennant race … they want [1] Adam Dunn, [2] or if everything falls apart, a pitcher that has pitched in a pennant race before, and is also a pretty good pitcher.

Dan
Guest
Dan

You’re completely spot-on.

Also, here’s a Dan Hudson comp for you – Edwin Jackson.

Here’s why: Edwin Jackson survives on an awesome fastball, great slider, and craptastic third and fourth pitches. Hudson could do the same to a lesser extent since he doesn’t have quite as electric stuff, but it’ll be a couple years. Arizona has that time. So Hudson *could* be a #3/#4 without a great third pitch.

But I completely agree with you – it isn’t one that is a lateral present-day move for the Sox: they got better with Edwin Jackson, and this could be a heist for them if Hudson winds up in the ‘pen and the other dude amounts to nothing. But you can’t really look at these moves retrospectively, because most moves make sense at the time. It’s just a matter of what chances work out in the end.

pounded clown
Member
pounded clown

Another possible reason why so many prospect bust is that baseball, a speed/techincal sport is more affected by sports specific plateauing which is only prolonged by poor and improperly sequenced general conditioning. The subsequent overtraining of the nervous system that limits neuromuscular plasticity may explain why it takes inordinate amounts of time for players to develop and why a non-contact sport is continually plagued with injuries that result from overuse and bodies poorly prepared for athletic activity despite baseball’s attempts to modernize its conditioning methodolgies – you cannot play sport while preparing for it.

Ned Colletti
Guest
Ned Colletti

Agreed. Prospects are completely overrated. I’d much rather have gritty, hard-nosed veterans who know how to play the game the right way.

CircleChange11
Guest
CircleChange11

David,

I wanted to apologize for saying this …

Evaluating these trades, at this point, is dumb.

What I meant to state was that it is or can be “premature”, not dumb. I had to leave after making that post to go help pass out youth football equipment, and I thought about my choice of words on the drive there, and how they could be perceived.

Thanks for the time invested, and the work done, to help keep us all informed of what is going on, and how it might affect both teams. I didn;t want to sound like an ungrateful SOB, but I sure did.

Wally
Guest
Wally

But the whole point is to try evaluate talent and potential now, because, well, that’s what MLB GMs have to try to do as well. Its just intellectually lazy to take a “wait and see” approach.