Jackson, 34, joined the Nationals last June on a minor-league deal after being released by the Orioles. He was called up on July 18 to fill the rotation spot of Joe Ross, who underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery. He spent the rest of the season on the major-league roster, making 13 starts and posting a 5.07 ERA with a 1.41 WHIP, 58 strikeouts, and 25 walks over 71 innings. After a strong start in Washington, Jackson faded down the stretch, posting a 9.82 ERA and 1.82 WHIP over five starts in September, and he was left off the Nationals’ postseason roster.
It’s possible that Ross could miss the entire 2018 season as he works his way back from Tommy John, and Washington’s fifth starter spot is a question mark heading into spring training. While they’ve been linked to more established veterans such as Jake Arrieta and Lance Lynn this offseason, Jackson looks to be in position to compete with guys like A.J. Cole and Erick Fedde for the final rotation spot if the Nationals don’t add another starter.
Jackson will earn $1.5 million if he makes Washington’s major-league roster and is eligible to earn up to $1.4 million in incentives. By sticking with the Nationals — he also played in Washington in 2012 prior to his current stint — Jackson is further delaying his bid to tie Octavio Dotel as the most-traveled player in major-league history. Jackson has played for 12 teams — the Dodgers, Devil Rays/Rays, Tigers, Diamondbacks, White Sox, Cardinals, Cubs, Braves, Marlins, Padres, Orioles, and Nationals (two stints) — and needs to play with just one more new club to tie Dotel’s record of 13.