When Theo Epstein and the Cubs signed free agent Edwin Jackson to a 4-year, $52 million deal in January of 2013, I don’t think he planned on cutting him less than three years later.
But that’s what happened late Sunday when the team designated Jackson for assignment, replacing him on the roster with veteran reliever Rafael Soriano.
If you’re unaware of what exactly being ‘DFA’d’ entails, there’s about a 95% chance Edwin Jackson won’t be back in a Cubs uniform. It’s likely he’ll sign with another team as a free agent unless Epstein somehow works out a trade to salvage a minimal return.
In hindsight, it’s rather fitting that Theo and Co.’s first free agency signing of financial significance became their first publicly acknowledged mistake to an otherwise giddy Cubs fan base.
Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer would be the first to tell you they’re not perfect – regardless of how many Cubs fans blindly label them as such. Which is understandable, considering the organization – especially in the baseball operations department – was a shit show for as long as millennial fans like me can remember.
Of course, the current and very qualified Cubs front office team has earned their reputation through a hoard of shrewd international signings, trades, and draft picks. In fact, the only player on the 25-man roster that wasn’t somehow acquired since Theo Epstein took over is Starlin Castro. And that active roster currently has the Cubs in the playoffs by one game.
Building the organization’s talent pool – both on the farm and in Chicago – is obviously the first priority of any front office. But having the discipline to cut ties with moves that haven’t worked is also vital. Ignoring a mistake will only compound it, and after 347 largely unproductive innings – it became clear that signing Edwin Jackson was a mistake. Theo Epstein all but told us that on Sunday night.
A franchise like the Chicago Cubs can easily eat the remaining salary on Jackson’s deal, especially when there is a legitimate benefit in both parties moving on. Addition by subtraction, if you will.
By multiple accounts, the journeyman pitcher didn’t make Epstein and Hoyer’s decision any easier thanks to his winning attitude and rep as a great teammate.
But this is a business. And for the Cubs front office, business means winning – now and in the near future. While it would have been ideal for Jackson to actually reach his lofty potential in Chicago, he didn’t. Which is fine, because shit happens.
After all, the sign of a good front office isn’t hitting on every single move – but rather having more hits than whiffs.
Especially when you own up to the whiffs.