The Adam LaRoche / Mike Morse situation is the most pressing thing facing the Nats this offseason. The second most pressing? Edwin Jackson's future. That's a good thing, when your second most pressing issue is clearing up your 4th/5th place starter position. The Nats are a pretty settled ball-club that just won 98 games. But you only get to 98 if you have that rotation settled on so let's get to it.
First let's traipse through E Jax's fancy stats and compare them to the rough 2-year average I calculated earlier in the year. First the "lucky" ones
BABIP : .278 (.320)
HR/FB : 11.7% (9.4%)
LOB% : 71.2% (72%)
It really does look like Edwin had things more go for him than against him that year. That is a big drop in BABIP from his previous two years. Given that everything else here and below are pretty stable, it's probably not because he suddenly became a better pitcher. Now it could have something to do with the Nats team. The BABIP for the team was at .282. There may be a little luck there but it's mostly great defense. That doesn't mean that the .320 he had in the past was just a team issue and he'd put up another .278 if he came back with the Nats. Edwin averaged around .025 pts higher than the team BABIP over 2010-2011. More than likely he'd be looking at a .305 or so, maybe a little less given you have to take into account how he did this year. Let's say about 12 or so more non HR hits in the year. That's more baserunners, more runs given up, etc. etc. The other numbers are stable. You might expect a couple fewer homers or so. Overall I'd expect next year to feature very slightly worse pitching from Edwin* given all else being equal.
*I'd expect a very slight increase in xFIP which would mean an ERA expectation of about 3.80 / 3.85 or so, but that would be a better ERA. That's the way it breaks sometimes.
GB : 47.3% (46%)
K/9 : 7.97 (7.4)
BB/9 : 2.75 (3)
Everything here trended right. He gave up more GBs, struck out more guys, and walked fewer. At the same time nothing was that different than it was before. A little bit of growth maybe but given his age and the small changes I doubt we're going to see continued improvement in these, at best you can hope for is stability.
So what does that all mean. Pretty much Edwin Jackson IS the pitcher he was in 2010 and 2011 which is a guy with an ERA likely to be just under 4.00. There really isn't anything down deep in here, unless you want to bite on the idea that the end of the season and his playoff performance were indicative of something (I don't other than Nats fans would not like to see him out there next year). Now, having a guy like that as your 4th or 5th starters... that's pretty good. Looking at his ERA and his xFIP and the above... I'd put him in the 30-40 range of NL starters. On a bad team he'd be your #2, on your average team, he'd be a 3rd starter, on a good team he's 4th. For the Nats he could be 5th.
Is that worth 11 million a year? Yeah it roughly is given the innings Edwin throws out there. That's what the market says. (The Nats are getting HUGE bargains on Strasburg, Gio and ZNN in case you don't know) Is it worth 11 million to the Nats in 2013? Probably so. Is it worth it to the Nats as part of a multi-year deal though, that's the real question. For one more year I could see it but as I've said before I don't think Rizzo's MO includes signing older pitchers to long term deals. I think on the open market Edwin will be offered a deal in the 4 years 50 million range? If he can't get that 4th year it'll still be close to 3 years 40 mill. I don't see the Nats offering that and I wouldn't either. Expect a 1yr 13 mill, or 2 year 20 mill deal floated out there for Edwin to reject.
The Nats like Detwiler meaning that unlike last year when they had only 3 spots sewn up before signing EJax, this year they believe they have 4 AND they don't need the innings as much with Strasburg out of his shutdown year. I think they'll try to trade for a decent 5th starter type young arm but I could also see them doing something similar to last year, wait and see what value lies at the end of the FA year for a short-term deal, or possibly sign a older guy they like right away to a one year deal. Worst case is that fails and you roll with Lannan and use that spot to test out some young arms you like later in the year.
(I'll check the EJax Q's from last week tonight and make sure I addressed all the points - you'll see anything missed tomorrow)