The SF Giants are close to signing right-handed reliever Jay Jackson to a minor-league deal.
An industry source has informed Around the Foghorn that right-handed pitcher Jay Jackson is close to signing a minor-league deal with the SF Giants. Per the source, the Washington Nationals made a similarly aggressive push to add Jackson but ultimately fell short. The 32-year old reliever ranks among the best minor-league free agents available this offseason.
Once a top starting pitching prospect with the Chicago Cubs, Jackson’s effectiveness stalled in the upper minors, and he eventually became a minor-league free agent. He signed with the San Diego Padres before the 2015 season and moved to the bullpen, where he immediately took the next step. Between Double-A and Triple-A, he struck out 86 batters in 74.1 innings, walked just 18, and held opponents with a 2.42 ERA. The Padres eventually called him up in September, but he only received four appearances.
Following that success, he joined the Hiroshima Carp of Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan for the next three years. From 2016-2018, Jackson pitched in 181 games, completed 183 innings, struck out 202 batters, walked just 70, and posted a 2.16 ERA. Looking to return stateside, he signed a minor-league deal with the Milwaukee Brewers. He dominated the Pacific Coast League (40.2 IP, 54 K, 10 BB, 1.33 ERA) before he was finally promoted.
With the Brewers, Jackson wasn’t elite (4.45 ERA and 4.66 FIP) and suffered from some inflated walks (5.3 BB/9), but struck out 47 batters in 30.1 innings. His fastball sits in the mid-90s but generates strong movement that helps it miss bats and pairs with a plus slider that generated whiffs on 44% of opposing swings in 2019. In fact, he actually threw his slider more than any other pitch in 2019.
Assuming Jackson finalizes a deal with the Giants, he will join a crowded, but unproven, bullpen competition. The GIants have most notably added Matt Wisler and John Brebbia to a group that carries over Tyler Rogers, Sam Selman, Jarlin Garcia, Wandy Peralta, and Reyes Moronta. However, while they all have been effective relievers at times, a combination of injuries and small-sample sizes of success leaves a lot up in the air. Jackson has been effective wherever he’s pitched for the past five years and should have a good shot of breaking camp with the club.
The SF Giants bullpen was an obvious problem for the team in 2020. President of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi clearly remains intent on improving its depth to avoid similar problems next season. Assuming they finalize a deal with Jay Jackson, he will add another right-hander to the mix with a strong history of success in the upper minors and Japan.