One week ago, it was reported that the Chicago Cubs have signed free agent starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez. What followed those reports for the next 48 hours was a series of backtracking until it was confirmed that Sanchez did not sign with the Cubs, rather the free agent pitcher signed a five year, $80 million contract with the Detroit Tigers. The Cubs were involved in a traditional negotiation tactic as Sanchez’s agent used the team as a way for the Tigers to increase their offer to Sanchez. In hindsight, the Cubs never really had a realistic chance at signing Sanchez.
The Cubs have reportedly turned their attention to free agent starting pitcher Edwin Jackson. Given how the market for free agent starting pitchers may have inflated the values of these pitchers, Jackson figures to benefit from the trend. The San Diego Padres have been negotiating with Jackson over the past couple of weeks, however, the Padres have reportedly pulled out of the negotiations after refusing to increase their offer to four years. While reporting that the Padres are out of the Jackson sweepstakes, Jim Bowden of ESPN tweeted that the Cubs and Texas Rangers are the finalists for Jackson. Ken Rosenthal added his information on the Jackson sweepstakes during a segment on the MLB Network studio show Hot Stove. Rosenthal said on Wednesday morning that he does not expect the Rangers to be the high bidder for Jackson. That would mean that the Cubs could be considered as the favorites to sign Jackson, though we’ve seen the faults of premature reporting, so there is no need to get excited just yet.
The 29 year old Jackson would fit with the type of pitcher that the Cubs have been interested in this off-season. Like Jackson, Sanchez will be 29 years old when the 2013 season starts. Meaning the Cubs, who offered Sanchez a five year contract, likely will not shy away from offering Jackson a four or five year contract. Jackson has been seeking an annual salary of $11 million per season, so that would put the total of his prospective contract around $44 million to $55 million depending on the years attached. Of course, the question is bound to be asked if the Cubs will be able to trade Jackson for prospects. If the Cubs were to sign Jackson to a four year, $44 million contract or even five year, $55 million contract; then, there should be no contractual issue that would restrict the team from trading Jackson.
If signed, Jackson likely would slide behind Jeff Samardzija and Matt Garza in the starting rotation. Last season with the Washington Nationals, Jackson was 10 and 11 to go along with an ERA of 4.03 (xFIP of 3.79) in addition to a K/9 ratio of 7.97 and a BB/9 ratio of 2.75. No word on when we can expect a decision from Jackson, though, the Cubs appear to be in the final stretch with yet another upper-tier free agent starting pitcher this winter.