The White Sox are reportedly fielding calls on Edwin Jackson, but the most significant upshot of dealing the starter would be its effect on Jake Peavy.
For what it's worth, SI's Jon Heyman reported Monday the Sox were listening to overtures for Jackson. Heyman has a reputation — deserved or not — of being a Scott Boras mouthpiece, and Jackson is a Boras client, for the record. But it makes sense the Sox would listen on Jackson, who will be a free agent after this season and, as a Boras client, has little chance of returning to the White Sox after 2011.
But there are a few problems with dealing the 27-year-old starter, at least right now:
1. The Sox would be selling low.
I can't speak to the evaluative procedures of other teams, but if they're not looking at FIP, they're undervaluing Jackson. With a 3.16 FIP — the product of 34 walks, 92 strikeouts and eight home runs allowed in 106 2/3 innings — Jackson is a fairly decent bet to "improve" in the second half. His 4.30 ERA is much more likely to go down than go up as the season progresses.
But if teams are leaning on Jackson's ERA as a main stat in evaluating him, they're not going to offer a fair package to the White Sox. I have to assume his 5-7 record is pointless enough, but then again, the Diamondbacks did mysteriously trade for former 17-game winner and truly mediocre left-hander Joe Saunders for an all-world pitcher in Dan Haren last summer.
If the Sox are to trade Jackson, they should wait a little while and see if his results improve. While that's no guarantee and Jackson certainly has his drawbacks — namely, inefficiency — his value could improve with a couple of outings to lower his ERA to around 4.00.
2. Raise the white flag — maybe.
There's really no other way to spin this: the White Sox completely lost the Dan Hudson/David Holmberg - Jackson trade of last July. We'll skip the gory details of Hudson's stats, age and inexpensiveness (not to mention Holmberg's prospect status) and go right to the fact that it would be an admission of defeat from the White Sox front office.
Jackson was supposed to get Adam Dunn last summer, sure. Maybe he never was supposed to pitch a game for the White Sox. But, at this point, Jackson was supposed to be a guy who solidified a good rotation and made the Sox a tough out in the playoffs.
To Jackson's credit, he's pitched very well in a White Sox uniform. He was elite in his two months with the Sox in 2010, racking up 2.0 WAR in 11 starts. No matter who he faced, that's great. But the Sox didn't make the playoffs last season, and they don't appear to be on that track in 2011.
It's hardly Jackson's fault. It's also not his fault he's not one of a select few players who would've made trading Hudson for 1.3 years of their service easy to stomach.
Maybe the White Sox could attempt to salvage the trade by acquiring a decent prospect, although for a half-season of a guy with a 4.30 ERA, that may not happen. It's equally unlikely the Sox would acquire a hitter who could catapult them into the playoffs.
Meanwhile, Hudson has been a key player in the Diamondbacks' return to relevancy this season. He'd be better to have around than anybody the Sox could get for Jackson.
3. It hurts Peavy.
Refer to Jim's writeup on the next installment of the "Peavy isn't right" series, which is just as disappointing as the last few chapters.
A six-man rotation seems to be the only way to keep Peavy an acceptable percentage of health, and without Jackson, the Sox can't have a six-man rotation. Well, okay, they can, but it'll mean calling up a player from a farm system that has no major-league ready starting pitching.
Without Jackson, the White Sox will have no insurance — save the actual insurance plan the Padres took out — in case Peavy gets hurt. Any replacement in case Peavy goes down would have to come from the free agent scrap heap. Think Doug Davis.
4. The Sox aren't out of it yet, despite their best efforts.
Despite an awful 2-5 homestand against the two teams below them in the AL Central, the Sox aren't out of striking distance just yet. They're five games behind Detroit with 12 to play against the Tigers and 4.5 back of Cleveland with 13 remaining against the Tribe. While the Sox haven't played the Tigers well — the same goes for the Twins, who are 1.5 games back of the Sox — there are plenty of chances to get back in the race.
Trading Jackson, mainly for reason No. 3, probably hurts the Sox's chances. Maybe it would improve the offense, but there's no reason to trade for outside help when Dayan Viciedo is twiddling his thumbs in Triple-A.
The Sox can add a jolt of offense without hurting the starting rotation. Like all things regarding the White Sox right now, this ends up bringing us to Viciedo.