Report: Cubs nixed Edwin Jackson, B.J. Upton trade
In a move that likely would have made at least some fans rejoice, the Chicago Cubs almost dealt right-hander Edwin Jackson to the Atlanta Braves in exchange for outfielder B.J. Upton near the non-waiver trade deadline, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
"The Braves and Cubs engaged in trade discussions in July, a high-ranking official with direct knowledge of the talks, about a deal what would send Upton to the Cubs and Jackson to the Braves."
Now, the USA Today national baseball writer does make it very clear that the two sides were not close to reaching a deal, but also points out that the deal – which was reportedly a straight swap of two “albatross” contracts – will likely be revisited during the offseason. Upton, 30, is a career .244/.324/.400 hitter during his ten-year big league career, spent between Atlanta and Tampa Bay. This season, the Braves’ center fielder is batting .205/.280/.325 with nine home runs and 32 RBIs in 121 games – in the midst of a monstrous five-year, $72.5 million deal that runs through the 2017 season.
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Cubs fans are all too well aware of the struggles of right-hander Edwin Jackson, who, prior to being placed on the 15-day disabled list last week, may have very well reached 20 losses. His last start was a disaster – he failed to make it through the third, allowing seven earned runs on eight hits in a loss to the Giants at home. He, also, is in the midst of a hefty contract – four years and $52 million – that still has two seasons remaining on it. Throw in a 6-14 record and an earned run average above 6.00 and you have the summary of Jackson’s season.
While the two teams will reportedly revisit the talks at some point, it seems far-fetched to truly believe that Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer would trade one bad contract for an even worse one. It’s more money and more years to obtain Upton, who – as noted – struggles regularly to not only make contact, but even to get on base. He hasn’t even hit higher than .250 since back in 2008. Add Upton’s swing-and-miss tendencies and disastrous contract to the Cubs’ future outfield situation and it makes the reality quite simple: the team has no room for a costly reclamation project.
According to MLB.com prospect rankings, the Cubs have several quality outfield prospects in its top 20 list – including the highly-touted Jorge Soler and Billy McKinney, a former Athletics top prospect who was acquired in the Jeff Samardzija–Jason Hammel trade. Add in the logjam on the left side of the infield that has Addison Russell, Starlin Castro, Javier Baez and Kris Bryant that mandates position changes for at least a couple of these young infielders and the outfield only grows more full.
The bad news? For now, Edwin Jackson is here to stay in Chicago. The good news? We’re not trading a bad contract for an even worse one.