Perhaps the question I've asked in the headline to this post is a bit premature, considering Edwin Jackson is Thursday night's scheduled starter and might have a chance to redeem himself from his last 11 outings, only one or two of which could even be considered "decent."
I raise this question because of this article about the Phillies' Ryan Howard, whose career has been in tatters pretty much since his ghastly Achilles injury that ended the Phils' 2011 division series against the Cardinals. The key parts of that rather long article are these:
Multiple sources say the team has also discussed moving on without Howard. The team has floated his name in trade talks but Howard is owed the remainder of $25 million for this season and $60 million over the next two seasons. No team is interested in taking on that amount of money -- or even part of it because the Phils know they’d have to eat a large portion of Howard’s salary -- for a declining player. The logical next step is to release Howard. Sources say team officials have discussed the possibility of paying off Howard and moving on without him after the season.
Paying him off? Sixty million dollars just eaten? That would be by far the largest amount of money ever given to a player who was simply released. I believe the record is still the $22 million the Diamondbacks gave Russ Ortiz when they let him go in 2006. Ortiz went on to pitch for four other teams, poorly, before finally hanging it up in 2010. But Arizona wound up paying for the vast bulk of that post-2006 performance; other teams paid just a pro-rated portion of the MLB minimum, until Ortiz' Arizona contract expired.
If the Phillies are willing to do this, why couldn't the Cubs do it with Jackson? He's owed $22 million for 2015 and 2016, and about $4 million for the rest of this year. His performance has been awful this year, with -0.9 bWAR, below replacement value. Add that to the -1.3 bWAR he posted in 2013, and Jackson's tenure with the Cubs has been pretty much a complete failure.
There have been rumors that the Yankees might be interested in trading for him, and if the Cubs would eat a good chunk of that contract and get a lottery-ticket A-ball pitcher in return, that would be a success, I'd think. But if that doesn't happen, I wouldn't mind seeing the Cubs simply release Jackson. They can get better production out of just about anyone -- it would probably be better to have Chris Rusin take the rest of Jackson's starts this year.
What say you? If the Phillies are willing to eat $60 million, couldn't the Cubs eat less than half of that?