PHOENIX — As the Cubs hold another fire sale, could Edwin Jackson become the next starting pitcher to get traded?
“You’ve seen crazier things happen,” Jackson said.
Right now, the Cubs are stuck with Jackson, who hasn’t lived up to the $52 million contract that put a target on his back. He went on vacation during the All-Star break and spent time with his family, trying to hit the reset button.
“Baseball was the furthest thing away from my mind,” Jackson said. “Come into the second half like it’s all zeroes.”
But Jackson is still 5-10 with a 5.61 ERA after leading the majors with 18 losses last season. It would take a team desperate for pitching help, and some creativity to figure out how to divide the roughly $26 million left on a frontloaded deal that runs through 2016.
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The New York Yankees (49-47) are still hanging around in a down year for the American League East, even with a rotation decimated by injuries to Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia, Michael Pineda and Ivan Nova.
The New York Daily News reported the Yankees “are not interested” in Jackson, though the Bronx Bombers would appear to be one of the few teams that could potentially be a match on paper.
“Anybody can be a candidate to get traded,” Jackson said. “All trades aren’t bad. All of them aren’t good. But at the end of the day, as a player, you can’t really worry about what you can’t control. The only thing you can control is throwing the ball and trying to get outs.”
Cubs manager Rick Renteria defended Jackson after Friday’s 5-4 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field, saying: “I know that he’s the guy that we seem to pick on, and I thought he did a great job and kept us in the ballgame.”
Renteria hopes Jackson can build off that performance, pitching into the sixth inning, giving up zero walks and leaving the game with a lead. Jackson was charged with three runs, but he’s essentially the same guy after every start.
“He’s a young man that got here and was expected to do a lot, and rightfully so,” Renteria said. “I think he knows it, too. He’s been grinding. He’s shown that he’s better than he has been, and he continues to progress.
“Not near what everybody wants, and he would be the first one to probably tell you that ‘I know I can do better.’”
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Jackson is a positive clubhouse presence and his stuff can be electric. He’s made 30-plus starts in each of the last seven seasons.
Jackson, who won’t turn 31 until September, has already been traded six times. He’s pitched for eight teams during a nomadic career that’s seen him go to the All-Star Game as a Detroit Tiger, throw a no-hitter for the Diamondbacks and win a World Series ring with the St. Louis Cardinals.
At this point, Jackson’s numb to trade speculation.
“It can involve anybody,” Jackson said. “You don’t worry about what you can’t control. I have one job and it’s to be ready to pitch every fifth day. Everything else is out of my control, so I don’t really focus on it.”