MLB.com's Diamondabacks beat writer Steve Gilbert tweets and then follows up with a story filled with the details of Arizona's recently consummated swap with the Oakland Athletics that sent Conor Jackson to Oakland in exchange for AAA reliever Sam Demel. As part of the deal, Oakland also gets cash to cover part of the remaining salary on his one year deal. Jackson signed a one-year contract worth $3.1 million early in the arbitration process. He earned $3.05 million in 2009
The minimal raise represents one aspect of arbitration that has proven contentious to owners - a player who is arbitration eligible, but who has not earned adequate service time to be granted free agency, can not receive a pay cut through arbitration. This provision has encouraged many teams to non-tender arbitration eligible players and sign them to a reduced contract rather than be forced into giving that player a raise.
Jackson, 28, has barely rebounded from his terrible 2009. Battling Valley fever he made it into only 30 games and was ineffective in those games, hitting .182/.264/.253. The Diamondbacks had hoped to see a return to his seasonal average from 2006-2008 when he averaged 14 home runs per season and batted .292/.371/.451. Instead he's posted a .238/.326/.331 line in 172 plate appearances with just one home run.
Demel had been splitting closing duties with Henry Rodriguez in AAA Sacramento. In 22 games, he had logged 28.2 innings and notched six saves, to go with a 1.26 ERA. Demel also had solid peripherals in a league that favors hitters. How well those peripherals translate to the National League will determine what he can do to unfog Arizona's murky bullpen situation.
Jackson becomes a commodity to be packaged and dealt by Billy Beane in the short-term. Oakland's outfield includes Ryan Sweeney, Rajai Davis, Jack Cust, Gabe Gross and Eric Patterson. The addition of Jackson seems to overload that already crowded situation.
For Arizona, the move signals a willingness to entertain trade offers for veteran players. Replacing Jackson with Gerrardo Parra is both a cost-saving move and an improvement of talent. Another such move could be made at first base. With Brandon Allen healthy again and hitting well in June at AAA, will Adam LaRoche find himself dealt at the deadline, again in 2010? Other veterans whose salaries could be shed include Kelly Johnson and Chris Snyder.
Joe Tetreault is Managing Editor of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He can be contacted here through The Biz of Baseball
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