Free agent starting pitcher Edwin Jackson hasn't been mentioned in any rumors with the Tigers yet, but there's always a possibility that he returns to Detroit in 2013.
Who is he?
Jackson went 10-11 with a 4.06 ERA for the Nationals last season, the first time he remained in one league for an entire season since his stint with Detroit in 2009. A 29 year old right-hander, Jackson put up decent numbers in 2009 and 2010 while splitting time between the Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago White Sox, and St. Louis Cardinals. Despite only having pitched for six big league seasons, Jackson has already been a part of seven different big league rosters. Heads up, Octavio Dotel.
Why should we care?
Overall, Jackson's numbers are pretty good for a 4th or 5th starter. He has pitched at least 180 innings every season since 2007 and his strikeout-to-walk ratio has been increasing steadily since he left Tampa after the 2008 season. He struck out 8.0 batters per nine innings last season, the highest mark of his career. He has amassed 10.0 bWAR over the last four seasons, most of which came in his 3.9 bWAR season in 2009 with the Tigers.
Why should we stay away?
Once again, Jackson faded down the stretch in 2012. He allowed a .761 OPS to opposing hitters during the second half of the season compared to just a .681 OPS in the first half. In August and September, Jackson was 4-5 with a 4.93 ERA. He also allowed 10 home runs in the 12 starts he made after August 1st. This is nothing new for Edwin though. He had a similar fall-off with the Tigers in 2009, going 6-5 with a 5.07 ERA in the second half. His career splits are a little less extreme, but still there.
Then there's his contract situation. With Anibal Sanchez set to make somewhere in the neighborhood of $15 million per season, Jackson will look to set his barometer somewhere near that mark. Jackson made $11 million with the Nationals last season and his career numbers are somewhat comparable to Sanchez's (minus the second half collapses). Personally, I don't want someone who is only going to give us half a season of production signed for multiple years, but I would be slightly less irritated if Jackson received a similar contract to that of Jeremy Guthrie (3 years, $25 million).
Will he end up in Detroit?
It's tough to say. Jackson hasn't really made much noise this offseason, leading some to believe he's found a way to cloak himself. Regardless, it seems like Jackson will want a contract similar to the one that Sanchez is going to receive from someone. If the Tigers aren't able to bring Sanchez back into the fold, I don't see them ponying up for Jackson unless he comes at a major discount.