The best nuggets from Mike Rizzo’s conference call with reporters:
>>> Rizzo indicated that acquiring Jackson makes the Nationals no more likely to trade one of their starting pitchers, such as John Lannan or Ross Detwiler. Now, saying otherwise would hurt his leverage if he did discuss a trade with another team. But he called acquiring Jackson and the ability to turn a pitcher into a bat “mutually exclusive.”
“We’re certainly always open to making a deal if it makes sense for us,” Rizzo said. “We did not acqire Edwin Jackson to trade another starting pitcher. In spring training or before spring training, if a deal comes up we can’t pass up that positively impacts our ball club, we’d certainly be open-minded to it.”
>>> Rizzo began discussing a deal with Scott Boras, Jackson’s agent, about 10 or 12 days ago. Once Rizzo realized Jackson may be open to a one-year deal (which will be for $10 million), the idea of signing him became “much more palatable for us,” Rizzo said. “The term and the value was too good to pass up. We felt it improved our club immensely. There comes a point where his value was such that we were comfortable making the deal.”
>>> Rizzo believes Jackson still has “upside,” in part because of what the Nationals perceive as a correctable flaw in his wind-up. Rizzo said Jackson does not hide the ball when pitching from the wind-up, which the Nationals will try to “tweak,” Rizzo said.
Statistics validate the Nationals’ assertion: Over the past three seasons, the league has hit .283/.344/.438 with no runners on base against Jackson, when he is pitching with a wind-up. The league has hit .246/.308/.385 with men on, when he’s pitching from the stretch.
>>> The Nationals wanted to add another starter because their rotation is especially susceptible to the attrition every team faces with starting pitchers. Stephen Strasburg will be limited to 160 innings; Jordan Zimmermann has never thrown more than 161 innings in a season; Chien-Ming Wang sat out two years with a shoulder injury last season.
In looking across the league, Rizzo said he found that six of the eight playoff teams included at least two starters who pitched 200 innings. Looking at his own staff, “we had an innings shortage,” he said. The pitchers will also test each other.
“I like the competition aspect of this,” Rizzo said. “There’s going to be a lot of good pitchers out there in spring training this year. The best 25 guys will go north.”
>>> John Lannan has a minor league option remaining, but Rizzo indicated he will not use it. “We feel that he’s a major league-caliber starting pitcher,” Rizzo said. “He’s a major league starter, and he’s ready to help a contending team. That’s what we’re going to use him as.”