One long-term commitment down, one to go.
Pitcher Edwin Jackson and the Cubs made official Wednesday the four-year, $52 million contract the two sides agreed on a couple of weeks back.
Later this week Jackson will tie the knot with fiancee Erika Zanders.
While the Cubs and their fans no doubt wish the prospective bride and groom well in their new life together, the long-term baseball commitment definitely is something new for Jackson, who joins his eighth major-league team since 2003.
“I think everyone likes me,” quipped the 29-year-old right-hander during a news conference in the Cubs’ Wrigley Field clubhouse.
The long-term deal to Jackson might be considered a surprise for everybody on both sides.
Jackson barely has had time to plant roots in a career that has included stops with the Dodgers, Rays, Tigers, Diamondbacks, White Sox, Cardinals and Nationals.
And while the Cubs are in a “rebuilding” program under team president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer, they weren’t shy about going four years on Jackson, especially after they were rebuffed by free-agent pitcher Anibal Sanchez, who stayed with Detroit.
“I think we’ve been really consistent in saying that the value of every individual season is precious,” Hoyer said. “We want to put a great team on the field every year.
“We’ve also been clear that we’re building for something, something we think is going to be very special. We wanted to make sure that any free-agent signings of this magnitude really fit in with that plan.
“Edwin’s 29 years old. He’s already has six consecutive seasons of making 30-plus starts. He’s proven his durability. He’s proven his talent.
“But he’s also at an age where we think he can get even better and an age where he fits in with what we’re trying to do age wise and talent wise with our roster.”
Hoyer said he believed Jackson has moved so many times because his previous teams did not want to go long term on a contract.
Jackson, who grew up in a military family — he was born in Neu-Ulm, Germany — took a positive view of his peripatetic baseball life.
“The only thing that I take from it is as long as people are going out and trying to get me on their team, then it says a lot,” he said. “Most of the times I’ve been traded it’s been to a playoff-contending team or a team already with a spot in the playoffs.
“I never looked at it as a negative. I always looked at it as long as someone wants me and they want me on their team and around their players and in their clubhouse, then it’s not necessarily a bad thing.”
Last year Jackson was 10-11 with a 4.03 ERA and a WHIP (walks plus hits per 1 inning pitched) of 1.22 with Washington. For his career, he is 70-71 with a 4.40 ERA and a WHIP of 1.44.
He joins a rotation that includes right-handers Matt Garza, Jeff Samardzija, Scott Baker and Scott Feldman along with lefty candidate Travis Wood. That would seem to give the Cubs some much-needed depth after their 61-101 season in 2012.
“I think you’re never happy with your depth,” Hoyer said. “But we certainly worked really hard to build it up. The minute I say we’re happy with it, we’re going to have two injuries.
“That was a big factor for us. What we were running out there in September, after we traded a couple of guys and once we shut Samardzija down, it wasn’t the quality we were looking for. We needed to really address our depth, and we worked hard at it.”
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