Do the Cardinals have a trade in the works involving a starting pitcher?
They must. It's the only conclusion I can make if there is any truth to a Jon Heyman tweet that says the Redbirds have contracted Edwin Jackson's agent about potentially bringing him back to St. Louis in 2012.
Jackson, a decidedly mediocre pitcher with a 60-60 lifetime record and an ERA a whisker shy of 4.50, asked for a $60-million contract covering 4-5 years when he hit the open market. The Cardinals, who saw Jackson pitch well after arriving in the Colby Rasmus mega deal, watched him fade near the end of the season and into the playoffs. They seemed content to let him walk to another club, secure in the knowledge that they'd get a high draft pick as compensation when he signed elsewhere.
So why else would they be interested in bringing Jackson back unless there is a deal in the works that would create an opening in the starting rotation? The only other possibility is a bad one. Maybe the Birds have concerns that one of their current starters isn't going to be healthy enough to pitch in the rapidly-approaching season.
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The market for Jackson has apparently fallen off dramatically -- although the Orioles are said to be mulling over the possibility of a four-year deal for the big righty. But it doesn't matter how cheap he gets if the Cardinals don't have a place for him to pitch.
If a deal is in the works, it might be a big one. The Cardinals have a glut of righty bullpenners with Kyle McClellan, Lance Lynn, Mitchell Boggs, Eduardo Sanchez, Fernando Salas, Jason Motte and Maikel Cleto expected to fight over four or five roster spots.
There has been talk since the World Series that McClellan was likely trade bait since his salary has passed what the Cardinals would like to pay for his projected role on the club. Maybe he will be packaged with a starter (Jake Westbrook or Kyle Lohse) in a deal for a second baseman who can hit leadoff...