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If this is the end for Edwin Jackson, we should applaud in Tampa Bay

He is best known for pitching for a record 14 MLB teams, but for two months in the summer and fall of 2008, he helped the Rays nail down a pennant.
Edwin Jackson on the mound for the Rays in Game 4 of the 2008 American League Championship Series against the Red Sox. (Times files)
Edwin Jackson on the mound for the Rays in Game 4 of the 2008 American League Championship Series against the Red Sox. (Times files)
Published Jul. 17, 2019

Edwin Jackson was designated for assignment by the Blue Jays on Wednesday.

By itself, that is not huge news. Jackson has been traded or released by 10 teams, and signed as a free agent another half-dozen or more times. The bigger issue is whether this is truly — definitively, absolutely, doggone-it-we-mean-it — the end of the road for the 35-year-old former Devil Ray.

If so, it is worth pausing to appreciate one of the more fascinating careers you’ll ever see. And it’s worth wondering whether Jackson will be fondly remembered as a bulldog or written off as an underachiever.

Honestly, you could make an argument either way.

Related: MORE RAYS: Yankees’ CC Sabathia on the Rays: 'There’s no love lost’

Few pitchers have ever done less with so many opportunities. Jackson’s career ERA of 4.70 is tied for third-highest in Major League history for pitchers with at least 300 starts.

So, does that make him a disappointment, or a survivor?

Around Tampa Bay, at least, Jackson will forever be associated with better days. Acquired from the Dodgers in 2006 for Danys Baez and Lance Carter (neither of whom survived much longer), Jackson was equally talented and inconsistent. He lasted parts of three seasons in Tampa Bay and was eventually flipped to Detroit for future All-Star Matt Joyce.

And while Jackson’s career numbers around here were unsightly (19-26, 5.08 ERA), he did go 9-4 down the stretch for the Rays when they won the pennant in 2008. Tampa Bay had five 10-game winners in that rotation, all of whom were 26-years-old or younger. Impressively, among the group of James Shields, Matt Garza, Scott Kazmir and Andy Sonnanstine, it was Jackson who lasted the longest.

Related: MORE RAYS: How Travis d’Arnaud has emerged as an unlikely star for Rays

Down the road, Jackson will most certainly be recalled as the guy who bounced around a Major League-record 14 teams in parts of 17 seasons. And that’s probably how it should be.

But it would be a shame if his career is reduced to that lone oddity.

If, for instance, no one remembers that Jackson made his Major League debut on his 20th birthday, and outdueled Hall of Famer Randy Johnson 4-1 while the Dodgers were fighting for a wild card in 2003.

Or that, in a four-year span from 2008-11, Jackson pitched for two pennant winners, won a World Series, made an All-Star team and threw a no-hitter against the Rays for Arizona.

He also made close to $80 million in his career.

That ain’t a bad legacy for anyone.

John Romano can be reached at jromano@tampabay.com. Follow @romano_tbtimes.

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