To make room for Ryan Church, the Pittsburgh Pirates have designated right handed pitcher Steven Jackson for assignment. The 40-man roster is currently at 40 after these moves and the addition of Brandon Jones earlier today. Another spot still needs to be cleared to make room for an Octavio Dotel signing, although a trade might be in the works to create that spot.
The 2010 40-Man roster/payroll page is updated with this move. The Pirates’ projected payroll is $33,209,450 after this, the Brandon Jones waiver claim, and the Zach Duke signing earlier today.
I’m surprised that Jackson was selected to be designated for assignment. Jackson is coming off a year in which he was claimed off of waivers from the New York Yankees, and put up a 3.14 ERA in 43 innings out of the Pirates’ bullpen. That includes a stretch over the final two months where he posted a 2.92 ERA in 24.2 innings, with a 13:11 K/BB ratio, and no homers allowed.
I expected Anthony Claggett or Chris Jakubauskas to be removed before Jackson. I had Jackson penciled in for a bullpen spot on the 25-man roster all off-season. The Pirates can now either trade him, or hope he clears waivers and assign him to the minors, where he would still have a chance to make the team out of Spring Training.
Looking at Jackson versus Claggett and Jakubauskas:
Jackson: 3.14 ERA in 43 IP, 4.4 K/9, 4.6 BB/9, 0.4 HR/9
Claggett: 27.00 ERA in 3.2 IP, 7.4 K/9, 9.8 BB/9, 7.4 HR/9
Jakubauskas: 5.32 ERA in 93 IP, 4.5 K/9, 2.6 BB/9, 1.5 HR/9
Jackson: 4.69 ERA in 149.2 IP, 7.8 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, 0.9 HR/9
Claggett: 3.17 ERA in 88 IP, 4.7 K/9, 3.5 BB/9, 0.7 HR/9
Jakubauskas: 2.54 ERA in 56.2 IP, 7.8 K/9, 2.4 BB/9, 0.8 HR/9
Jackson isn’t the best reliever, but he has had some success in the majors, and put up good ratios in AAA, despite a poor ERA. Going in to the 2009 season, Claggett was rated the number 26 prospect in the Yankees system, while Jackson was rated the number 29 prospect. Claggett has the upside of a set-up man, with a 91-92 MPH fastball that can go faster if needed.
Overall it seems the Pirates are going with potential over the safe production. Jackson gets by with his sinker and a very high ground ball ratio, and probably will never be more than a front of the bullpen arm. Claggett may not be anything more than that either, but he has a better chance than Jackson. In the end these guys are going to be battling it out for the final bullpen spots. Hopefully Jackson is retained, but it’s not the end of the World if the Pirates lose him, especially with all of the non-roster invitees the Pirates have added this off-season.