The Nationals made a good move by signing right-handed starting pitcher Edwin Jackson to a one-year deal on Thursday. Now, they have the kind of problem that general managers simply smile about -- they've got too much starting pitching.
Jackson went 12-9 last year with a 3.79 ERA in 32 games (31 starts with White Sox and then Cardinals) and helped St. Louis rally to get to the playoffs and win the World Series.
He joins an already crowded rotation in Washington.
Gio Gonzalez (16-12, 3.12 with the A's), Stephen Strasburg (1-1, 1.50), Jordan Zimmermann (8-11, 3.18), Chien Ming-Wang (4-3, 4.04) and John Lannan (10-13, 3.70) already were there.
In addition, Ross Detwiler is waiting.
That's why this move would seem to signal that the Nationals will make a deal at some point, probably involving left-hander Lannan (10-13, 3.70), who looked like he'd be the No. 5 starter heading into spring training, or at least battle for that spot.
But as general manager Mike Rizzo said in a conference call on Thursday, don't assume the Nationals will swing a deal right away.
"We did not acquire Edwin Jackson to trade another starting pitcher," Rizzo said.
However, they've now got the option of doing that, and teams love to have options, especially when it comes to starting pitching.
Nats Notes & Quotes
CF Rick Ankiel, unable to land a major league deal as a free agent this winter, returned to the Nats, agreeing to a minor league contract. Ankiel figures to battle Mike Cameron, another spring invitee, and Roger Bernadina for the starting center field job. According to the Washington Post, those plans would change if rookie Bryce Harper makes the team, as Harper would start in right with Jayson Werth moving to center.
Ankiel, 32, played 122 games for Washington last year, hitting .239/,296/.363 with nine homers, 37 RBI and 10 steals.
INF/OF Mark Teahen, released by the Blue Jays last month, signed a minor league deal with the Nationals. Teahen, 30, split last season between the White Sox and the Blue Jays, hitting a combined .200/.273/.300 with four homers and 14 RBI in 78 games. He will make a guaranteed $5.5 million in 2012, though Toronto would be responsible for all but the major league minimum should Teahen make Washington's roster.
LHP John Lannan lost his arbitration case against the Nationals last week. The Washington Post reported that he wanted a $5.7 million deal, and the Nationals offered $5 million, which the left-hander will make.
RHP Edwin Jackson is expected to be an innings-eater for the Nationals this season. He has posted an average of at least 12 victories, plus 200 innings in each of the last four seasons.
RF Bryce Harper is the minor-leaguer everyone's watching, but the Nationals apparently have impressed others with all of their young talent. Baseball America last week said the Nationals have the best minor league system in baseball. They were ranked 30th only five years ago.
SS Ian Desmond's numbers slipped a bit last season, as he finished with a .253 average, eight home runs and 49 RBI. He could be batting leadoff this season, and it will be interesting to see how those numbers are affected. The Nationals will need him to be more patient at the plate, as he drew a total of only 63 walks in the last two years.
By the Numbers: 7 – The number of teams newly-signed starter Edwin Jackson has been with, as he pitched for the Rays, White Sox, Dodgers, Cardinals, D-backs and Tigers before coming to Washington.
Quote to Note: "It gives us depth and options." -- General manager Mike Rizzo, on the signing of RHP Edwin Jackson.