Jackson's tenure with Cubs ends
ATLANTA -- Edwin Jackson's often difficult tenure with the Cubs ended on Sunday when the team designated him for assignment to make room on the roster for reliever Rafael Soriano.
Jackson was the first big signing for Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein in January 2013, but the right-hander led the National League in losses in 2014 with 18, and went 14-33 with a 5.58 ERA in two seasons in the rotation. This year, he was assigned to the bullpen, where he was used primarily in long relief. In 23 appearances, Jackson had a 3.19 ERA in 23 appearances.
"I wasn't really expecting it," Jackson said Sunday of the news. "At this point in my career, it's hard for me to say I'm surprised about anything that happens.
"It [stinks] but it's the business part of the game," he said. "I'll be all right, the team will be all right. Hopefully in my time here, I left some kind of positive influence on some of the guys. They can continue to keep it going and proceed to go ahead and prosper in the game."
Jake Arrieta, who was the winning pitcher in the Cubs' 4-1 victory Sunday over the Braves, was stunned by the move.
"He's one of the best human beings I've ever been around," Arrieta said. "We're very close, and our families are really close. The off-the-field stuff is a huge part of what makes that situation so difficult.
"At the end of the day, the business side of the game comes into play, and maybe at moments where it's unexpected, like today," Arrieta said. "He's going to hit the ground running and continue to do what he's done this year."
There is approximately $15.63 million left on Jackson's $52 million contract. The Cubs will have to pay all of it, assuming he clears waivers.
"It's just a waiting game now," Jackson said of what's next. "Something will happen. Just not sure when, where or who."
It was bittersweet for Jackson to get the news in Atlanta, his offseason home. He had a lot of family at Sunday's game.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon inherited Jackson this year, but knew the right-hander from their time together in Tampa Bay in 2006-08.
"I want it to be known what a professional athlete and person Edwin is," Maddon said. "I wasn't here when he went through some tough moments, but everybody speaks so well of how he handled those and how accountable he was [to the media] and to his teammates.
"The word 'class' is thrown out there way too readily and easily," Maddon said. "I believe it applies to him and how he handles himself and his decorum. He's a good friend, and I really believe he'll get another opportunity and I wish him nothing but the best and this next opportunity really blossoms for him. He's a first-rate human being."
Cubs fans didn't always agree, and Jackson heard from them at Wrigley Field during his tough starts. The right-hander, who turns 32 on Sept. 9, didn't hold any grudges.
"Unfortunately, things didn't turn out how I planned here," Jackson said. "It happens, man. It's the game of baseball. Even throughout anything that's been negative here, hopefully, I was able to share a lot of positives with a lot of people and hopefully they can continue to keep it going. I wish nothing but the best to the organization and the city of Chicago."
Soriano will join the Cubs in Cincinnati on Monday. Maddon knows the veteran well; he was Tampa Bay's closer in 2010, totaling 45 saves and posting a 1.73 ERA.
Soriano needed seven pitches to retire the side on Saturday for Triple-A Iowa, his second outing with the team.
"All I'm hearing is that he's doing well," Maddon said of Soriano, who signed a Minor League deal with the Cubs in June. "He can get locked in. I've seen him strike out the side in Anaheim one night on nine pitches. Nothing was fouled off, nothing was touched. When he gets locked in with his location and stuff, he's very good."