As we have been talking about the past day and a half now, Edwin Jackson is a massive headache for the fans of the Chicago Cubs. Putting things kindly, Jackson has been pretty bad for any number of reasons for the past year and a half. Every time Jackson takes the mound and has less than a quality start, fans get heated and do what all fans do; they throw out requests and demands of what they feel the Cubs should do with a player who is under performing.
One of the first things fans request their management to do is to send a player down to the minors if they are struggling to perform at a major league level. Unfortunately with Jackson, he is well past the time where he can be sent to the minors. Unlike with players like Kyle Hendricks, Dallas Beeler and Tsuyoshi Wada, due to service time restrictions Jackson is unable to be yo-yo’d between the majors and the minors. He is stuck on the 25 man roster.
The exception is if Jackson gets injured and has to be placed on the disabled list, then he can be sent tot he minors for a rehab stint when he is deemed healthy by the medical staff. Once there though, there is a time limit for how long he can stay on a medical rehab assignment, which means he must be brought back. The Cubs cannot keep him in the minors for a long period of time; he must be brought back once the normal time frame for a rehab assignment ends.
After that request, the next is usually a request to trade a player who is not performing. Unfortunately, trading away players who are under performing is not easy at all; especially not when they come with a price tag of $11.5 Million a year. No team is willing to take on that much money, especially not when there are still roughly two and a half years left on that contract which owes Jackson close to $30 Million. There is also a good chance that even if you offer to eat all of the remaining money, finding a taker will not be easy because he is vastly under performing what he normally does (which to tell you the truth is not all too much better than what he is now).
I also chuckle to myself when fans ask for the bad players to be traded though instead of the good ones. The problem with this thought process, is that they are bad players. While teams would love to trade away their overpriced, bad players to get some salary relief, finding a taker for said players is not easy. If you want a player traded who is under performing, put yourselves into the shoes of a rival General Manager and ask yourself if you would trade for him. Chances are, you would say no if you think he sucks to the point where you want to trade him.
I think that we can safely say that the Cubs will not be trading Jackson, unless they eat just about all of the remaining money on his deal. Even if that were the case, they still would not get much back for him because of how he has under performed. I know you want him gone, but a trade is certainly not in the cards. Not with what he is owed, and not with how long he has left on his deal. Sorry to break the news to you.
Another common request when a player is doing this bad, is for fans to simple ask for him to be designated for assignment. While not out of the question, with close to $30 Million left on his deal, seeing him DFA’d is also not likely. People did not become rich by throwing away money. While the money is already a sunk cost, you always want to get something out of what you paid for, even if that something hurts. With the Cubs doing absolutely nothing this year that even resembles contending, all likelihood says that Jackson will remain on this team for the foreseeable future.
I know that is painful for most fans to read, but that is the painful truth of the matter. Getting rid of him will not be easy at all, so fans likely have to face the reality that he is not going anyplace, and will be on the 25 man roster until he gets injured; which I would hope fans would never be rooting for an injury.
With finally coming to the realization that they are stuck with Jackson on the roster, the next request is to send him to the bullpen where he can do the least amount of damage. While that is a possibility, I am not sure I see that as too likely. But we can play this situation out.
If Jackson does go to the bullpen, the most likely pitcher to take his place is Carlos Villanueva, who might actually be worse than Jackson. If you would rather have him starting games and see Jackson coming out of the pen in long relief, be my guest. Pick your poison there. If you want to know why the Cubs cannot bring up Beeler, Hendricks or Wada to replace him, that would require a lot more shuffling.
Two of them are likely to come up to fill the void left when the Cubs traded Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, so there will be one left. You can call him up to replace Jackson in the rotation, but another pitcher will have to go.
Who would you like to send to the minors from the bullpen? You do have a lot of choices. How about Hector Rondon? Maybe Neil Ramirez? What about Brian Schlitter or Justin Grimm? Villanueva is out of option so he cannot be sent down. James Russell or Wesley Wright? Of course you can also send down Zac Rosscup to make room for another starting pitcher. Then there is Pedro Strop. I am not sure how many people really want to say goodbue to any of these guys from the bullpen, but some are already targeted for the minors when the Cubs need a starter for the fourth and fifth spots in the rotation, which makes the roster shuffle all the more tricky.
I am sorry to say that the Cub fans are likely stuck with Jackson in the starting rotation for the foreseeable future. Despite how bad he has been (and I witnessed his embarrassing start in person yesterday) there are very few options as far as what to do with him. You may just have to accept that he is the Cubs bad starting pitcher for the remainder of the season at least.
Sadly, you will not have to wait long before seeing him take the mound again, as he is scheduled to be the first pitcher out of the gate after the All Star Break.