Why did the Bucs DFA Jackson?

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

I wanted to post this as a follow-up to last night’s late news that right-handed reliever Steven Jackson had been designated for assignment. For those who might have missed it, the Pirates were forced to open up a roster space on Tuesday night for Ryan Church, whose paperwork finally went through MLB confirmation, to be added.

By designating Jackson, who does have two options remaining, the Pirates now have 10 days to trade, release or outright Jackson to the Minors. He would have to pass through waivers to be outrighted.

GM Neal Huntington confirmed on Wednesday morning that the club tried to orchestrate a small trade (like the one Brian Bixler was involved in earlier in the week) to clear the roster spot. When the Pirates couldn’t, though, it forced Huntington to take someone off this way. 

“As we worked through our roster move options with the 29 other clubs, some clubs expressed interest in other players but they did not have enough interest that we were able to work out a small trade,” he said.

Jackson went 2-3 with 3.14 ERA in 40 appearances last season for Pittsburgh, but with the number of relievers the Pirates have amassed heading into Spring Training, the need for Jackson has diminished as the offseason went on. Too, Huntington’s adament belief in the unpredictability of reliever performance from one year to the next played a role in this decision.    

“Reliever ERA is one of the worst ways to evaluate a relief pitcher,” Huntington said. “As we evaluate the big picture, there are numbers behind the numbers that indicate it is very unlikely he will post a similar ERA in 2010. As we compare his probable role and stuff package to others in the organization, we feel we have depth to overcome his loss if that is indeed the case. If he clears waivers, then he will be out-righted and come to Spring Training to compete to make our club.”

Just reading between the lines here, but if the Pirates (while they were exploring various trade options) were unable to get interest in Jackson in recent days, there is certainly a chance that he will clear waivers. It’s always a risk, however, so stay tuned to see how things turn out.

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

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