Pitchers and catchers report for the SF Giants on Wednesday, which is the unofficial end of the offseason. During the winter, teams cannot use the 60-day injured list, but that designation will return for the Giants on Wednesday. Luke Jackson is candidate to be transferred to the 60-day injured list, which would free up a spot on the 40-man roster.
The 1 roster move the SF Giants could do as soon as Wednesday
The Giants added the right-handed hurler on a two-year, $11.5 million deal this past winter. His contract includes a team option for 2025. The guaranteed part of the deal was a mild surprise given that Jackson missed last season after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
That said, his contract speaks to how strong of a year he had in 2021. The 31-year-old struggled to establish himself earlier in his career. In fact, the Atlanta Braves designated him for assignment three times in a span of about six months that began in December of 2017.
Jackson cleared waivers each time and accepted a minor league assignment and it is a good thing that he did. The veteran reliever always flashed a quality slider, but the Braves began increasing its usage in recent years and that is a move that paid dividends.
While using his slider 53.3 percent of the time in 2021, Jackson tallied a 1.98 ERA, 3.66 FIP, 1.16 WHIP, 9.9 K/9, and a 2.41 SO/W ratio in 71 appearances. The Braves won the World Series that year due in part to Jackson's effort in the bullpen and he was rewarded nicely by San Francisco.
However, the righty underwent Tommy John surgery at the beginning of last offseason, which knocked him out for the entire year. The recovery timeline is typically 12 - 18 months for pitchers with relievers usually being able to return closer to that 12-month mark.
By the time Opening Day rolls out, Jackson will be 12 months removed from major elbow surgery. It usually takes another month of rehab games for a pitcher's arm to return to game action. Teams want to ensure that he can pitch in back-to-back days as well as multiple innings without any discomfort before being activated.
This likely puts Jackson's recovery timeline into May. The Giants anticipated this when they signed him, so it would not be surprising to see him moved to the 60-day injured list. This would open up a spot on the 40-man roster, which teams such as the Giants like to leverage whether it be a waiver claim or a major league deal.
If San Francisco does this, the clock for the 60-day injured list does not begin until Opening Day. So, Jackson would effectively miss the first two months of the season but that was likely part of the plan when he signed.
Moving him to the 60-day injured list would not be an indication of setback, but rather it gives them a little extra roster flexibility. They may not use it right away on Jackson, but it is a roster move they can begin to use again on Wednesday.