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Edwin Jackson Traded To White Sox For Daniel Hudson and David Holmberg

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Per Jon Heyman

dbacks get daniel hudson and david holmberg for jackson

Hudson was the White Sox fifth-round pick in 2008, but burned his way up through the minor-league system pretty quickly, and made his major-league debut in September the next year. The results haven't been amazing to date - a 4.72 ERA in 34.1 innings - but he was listed the White Sox #2 prospect by both the Hardball Times and Fangraphs in the off-season, with Baseball America putting him at #3, though multiple sources had him as the Southsiders' top prospect (see later). He is currently aged 23.

David Holmberg was #8 on the Hardball Times list , but was not mentioned by Fangraphs. The left-handed pitcher was the Sox 2nd-round pick in 2009, and only turned 19 earlier this month. He is currently in rookie ball, and has a 4.46 ERA in eight starts.

More on this move after the jump

Dan Hudson is certainly the prize in the deal. The Hardball Times said of him, "He has the potential to be a No. 2 starter with his consistent low-90s fastball to go along with a strong repertoire of secondary offerings, highlighted by his potentially plus slider." However, Fangraphs warned, "He had issues with allowing too many fly balls in double-A, triple-A and the Majors (29.8 GB%)" in 2009. That has the potential for trouble, pitching at Chase, but the piece goes on to note "He may have been tired, which could have led to elevated pitches." That would make sense, as he threw 166 innings at all levels last season, a pretty hefty workload.

His major-league numbers do seem to show an issue with walks, Hudson having issued 20 of them in only 34.1 innings, between 2009 and 2010, though he also struck out 28 over that time. That may just be small sample-size as it is a change on his minor-league numbers, where he walked only 2.52 per nine innings of work - and struck out an impressive 10.6 per 9IP. There can't be many pitchers who made their A-ball and major-league debuts in the same season, but that's what Hudson did last year. He'll likely go straight into the Diamondbacks rotation, and should be there through 2015 or so.

Kirk Champion, the White Sox minor league pitching coach, really liked Hudson, saying, "If I sound excited about him, it’s because I’ve seen him step in and climb over other guys I liked all season long, in three buildings." John Sickels rated Hudson the White Sox top prospect this winter, saying " I rated him as a big sleeper pre-season and he really broke through." Baseball Prospectus concurred: "Hudson combines plus stuff with well above-average command. His 92-94 mph fastball can touch 96 and features good tailing action, and he throws strikes to both sides of the plate with it. His best secondary offering is a plus changeup that is a true swing-and-miss pitch."

There is some debate about Hudson's slider. Some like it, saying "His above average slider is his strikeout pitch and it has looked like a plus pitch at times," and Baseball America rated it the best slider in the White Sox organization. Others are less impressed: "His 3rd offering is a mediocre Slider that he succeeded by avoiding in the lower Minors, but won’t be so fortunate with the Big League club." Baseball Prospectus took the middle ground: "Hudson's slider flashed average, but it is inconsistent. He'll need to establish it more as a starter in the big leagues."

David Holmberg is, as noted, very young. He.entered the 2010 season ranked by Baseball America as the eighth-best prospect in the White Sox organization, and the Hardball Times said he "brings a great mix of pitches to the mound, including a curveball and change-up that have the makings of plus pitches. His fastball falls flat right now, but further velocity is expected as his frame fills out. He's the most intriguing pitching project in Chicago's system." The left-hander has compiled a 3-3 record and 4.02 ERA in 21 games (14 starts) during two seasons in the White Sox organization from 2009-10.

He just made the Baseball Prospectus Top 10, but they were uncertain about his fastball. They said, "He currently sits at 86-89 mph, and for every scout who sees some projection in him, there's another who think he's already maxed out. He'll need to improve his command as he moves up the ladder, and he might always be forced to pitch backwards." The piece reckons Holmberg "profiles to be a back-of-the-rotation innings-eater." John Sickels rated Holmberg their #7, but also wonders about the same thing: "Will the fastball get faster? If it does his stock could go up quickly." Nick Piecoro notes similarities between Holmberg and former AZ prospect Brett Anderson.

There. With the pesky "facts" out of the way, time for my opinion.

I like this trade - we seem to have almost got more back than in the Haren deal. I'd have been happy with a straight-up swap of Jackson for Hudson: the latter seems to be not much worse a pitcher already, and has a full five years of control, whereas Jackson will be a free agent after 2011. This definitely counts as more evidence that the team is now building for the longer-term, in 2012 and beyond, and Hudson looks to be a cornerstone of the rotation for the rebuild. With the arrival of Pat Corbin, Holmberg and - in all likelhood - Tyler Skaggs, that means that the Diamondbacks now control eleven of the top 95 players chosen in last year’s draft.

There is, however, no doubt that this was also a salary dump for the Diamondbacks. Between the departure of Jackson and Dan Haren, the team has now shed more than $21 million (Haren $12.75 million, Jackson $8.375 million) off the payroll for 2011. While some of that will go to Joe Saunders, who is arbitration-eligible, assuming we hang on to him, the moves should clear about $15m in total. It means the 2011 rotation for Arizona now potentially looks like:

  • LHP Joe Saunders (age 30 in 2011)
  • RHP Ian Kennedy (26)
  • RHP Dan Hudson (24)
  • RHP Barry Enright (25)
  • RHP Rodrigo Lopez (35) or RHP Jarrod Parker (21), depending on the latter's return from surgery.

If Parker is in there, it will mean Saunders is the only one not under long-term control, and thus likely to be part of the next movement towards contention.