Cubs Add Jackson and Villanueva … More Roster Moves on the Horizon

If the reports are correct, the Cubs added two pitchers to the mix on Thursday.  The Cubs reportedly agreed to terms on a four-year, $52 million contract with Edwin Jackson and a two-year, $10 million contract with Carlos Villanueva … and both contracts do not include no-trade clauses, a new club policy.

The deal with Carlos Villanueva could be announced on Friday according to David Kaplan but it might be after Christmas before Edwin Jackson’s signing will be made official. The Cubs must clear three spots on the 40-man in order to add Villanueva, Jackson and Nate Schierholtz to the roster.

Edwin Jackson

Edwin Jackson’s new agents did something Scott Boras could not do a year ago, find a team to sign Jackson to a multi-year contract. Jackson left Scott Boras last July and signed with Legacy Sports. While Jackson’s deal does not include a no-trade clause, many think Jackson will be able to perform better now that he has a little stability in where he will pitch.

FanGraphs liked the Jackson signing and said, “the Cubs have now acquired four interesting starting pitchers this winter. They’ve rebuilt their entire rotation, essentially, and have set themselves up to be able to trade Matt Garza – after he proves he’s healthy, anyway – without it creating a huge problem for their Major League team. They did the same drastic overhaul of their rotation that the Twins and Royals went after this winter, just they did it without giving up useful Major League outfielders or top outfield prospects in the process.”

FanGraphs  – Cubs Sign Edwin Jackson

The Price of Pitching

Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer set out this off-season to add pitching to the organization and so far they have added eight arms to the mix. Scott Baker (one-year, $5.5 million guaranteed), Scott Feldman (one-year, $6 million guaranteed) signed early on and the Cubs re-signed Shawn Camp (one-year, $1.35 million guaranteed) before the market took off. The Cubs inked Kyuji Fujikawa to a two-year, $9.5 million guaranteed contract. The Cubs then selected Hector Rondon in the Rule 5 Draft and claimed Sandy Rosario off waivers.

After Anibal Sanchez decided to stay with the Tigers, the Cubs turned their focus to Edwin Jackson and Carlos Villanueva and added depth to the staff with both signings.

Jackson should slide right into the rotation with Jeff Samardzija, Matt Garza, Scott Feldman and Travis Wood. It is highly doubtful that Scott Baker will begin the year on the active roster and Arodys Vizcaino is ticketed for Triple-A when the Cubs feel he is ready to begin his season. Villanueva gives the Cubs insurance if Matt Garza is not ready at the start of the year or in the event of another injury.

All toll, the Cubs have spent $73.5 million on Jackson, Villanueva, Feldman and Baker and a grand total of $84.355 million (plus minimum salaries for Rosario and Rondon) on pitching this winter.

News, Notes and Rumors

According to David Kaplan, the Cubs do not plan on flipping either Edwin Jackson or Carlos Villanueva but Matt Garza could be another story.

According to multiple reports, Tom Gorzelanny will be returning to the NL Central next season. The former Cubs’ southpaw reached agreement on a two-year contract with the Brewers, pending a physical, believed to be worth close to $6 million.

Adam Greenberg inked a minor league contract with the Baltimore Orioles on Thursday that does not include a non-roster invite to Spring Training.

Matt Garza appears to be happy with the moves the Cubs made on Thursday. Garza welcomed Edwin Jackson and Carlos Villanueva on his twitter account and said he is happy to be reunited with Jackson. Garza and Jackson were teammates in Tampa during the 2008 season.

Cubs’ Spring Training tickets to games at HoHoKam Park go on sale on January 4 … and pitchers and catchers report to Fitch Park in just 51 days.

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO

Quote of the Day

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  • Vivid_Reality

    I believe they aren’t looking to flip Jackson though they could be swayed by a good offer. Villanueva on the other hand is gone at the deadline if he has and ERA under 4, no hesitation. The Cubs aren’t fooling anyone.

    • Richard Hood

      I agree and at the same time think that you might be a little premature. IF our young guys at AAA make some strides before the All Star break then 3 of the 4 guys we have signed to start need to keep their bags packed.

      Then again if we can hit a little and start off hot (think Pirates in 2011), we now have some pitching depth to add at the deadline instead of flip all these pieces.

  • triple

    I like this signing of Edwin Jackson. At first, I wasn’t really thrilled with the choices of EJ or Anibal Sanchez, and would’ve preferred the risk involved with Marcum. But after digging and doing a little stats geek math (not really much of one so I’m using the basics), I think Jackson for 4/$52 is way better than Sanchez for 5/$77.5, and here’s why:

    I added up their career stats against the other teams that will be in the NL central next year (Reds, Brewers, Pirates, and STL).

    Sanchez: 21 starts, 7-8, ERA 3.73, WHIP 1.34
    Jackson: 22 starts (and 1 relief appearance), 9-5, ERA 3.38, WHIP 1.28

    It certainly looks like Jackson can serve the Cubs well in the NL central, especially with the unbalanced schedule, as he will likely get about 14 starts against the division.

  • Brp921

    I thought I read where Jackson did get a no trade clause and I was a little disappointed because Theo doesn’t do that. I just thought that was the only way to sign him. I’m glad to hear it’s not true as it could hurt him in future negotiations with other free agents.

    • Brp921

      I misread Jon Heymans twitter, it said no no trade clause. My bad.

      • scott

        I love what fangraphs said about our offseason piching pickups. I think they are spot on. This front office has done a hell of a job building a very good and deep rotation for next year and without giving up a single prospect. I assure you other teams are green with envy.

  • Tony_Hall

    The Cubs FO has spent a little over a year, rebuilding this organization. We all know that the lower levels of the farm system is the bright spot, with the drafts of the last 2 years (old regime being instructed to not let money stop them from drafting guys being the start of this) and the additions of international guys, and the trades that have been made, all have led to a 40 man roster that is getting harder to let guys go.

    I said harder but not that difficult yet. There are still players that will be no great loss that can be removed.

    Campana – Looks to be the odd man out in the OF, he will get added to another teams roster that has the ability to have a player so 1 dimensional

    Stewart – They seem to have the ability to send him to the minors, but would have to pass through waivers first. Not sure this is going to happen, barring a trade that would bring in a 3B.

    Clevenger – They will have 3 catchers on the 40 man all season. It would be a temporary spot, with the thought that he would pass through waivers, or is easily replaceable.


    Raley – Rusin would have to be released, which makes his counterpart the more likely guy to be sent down.

    Concepcion – If he isn’t sent off the 40 man, then there must be a NTC in his contract of some sort, otherwise there is no reason they wouldn’t send him down, as I see no team willing to take on his contract with last years horrible season.

    Castillo – It would be a calculated risk that he would pass through waivers, otherwise all of last year would be for nothing…which of course happens with guys at the bottom of a 40 man roster.

    Rosario – He would most likely be claimed, again, if they tried to pass him through waivers. Don’t see it happening.

    The more you look at all of this, you see a trade coming, that will open up some spots, and since during the holidays, things just take longer, we can see them not “officially” annoucing the signings until after the 1st of the year.

    • Tony_Hall

      If I had to pick guys without a trade.

      Schierholtz takes Campana’s spot (sorry Paul)
      EJackson takes Raley’s spot
      Villanueva takes Concepcion spot (Castillo if there is a reason they can’t do this to Concepcion)

      All in all, no great loss, and the additions are upgrading the 25 man roster, let alone the 40 man roster.

      • Richard Hood

        Remember that most of Conception’s money was in a signing bonus. Meaning that if he is waived off the 40 man someone can pick him up for very little money. I think it is like 800k but I am not 100% sure. Other than that one I think you are pretty close. Probably Raley, Rosario and Campana.

        • Tony_Hall

          $3M signing bonus. $600K per year over 5 years.

          That leaves 4 years and $2.4M

          No team is going to pay $2.4M for what we saw last year. Now is the time to move him off the 40 man, if they can. I think there must be a reason they can’t. If the Cubs would be on the hook for the money and lose him, then they are going to keep him on the 40 man, and hope that he gets healthy and can be productive. Even though I feel he was signed to help get Soler.

      • paulcatanese

        No need to be sorry Tony. That (as I have stated before) would be the best thing to happen to Campana.
        I have advocated that they should trade him or release him, that would be the best thing for him.
        I have always felt that the object of the game is to play, and if one cannot do that, get traded or released.
        After sitting for almost 3/4 of last season, what could he contribute to?
        All that was achomplished was Campana took up a spot on the bench, period. Complete mystery that he lasted as long as he did.
        When one cannot even contribute to the idea of using the whole roster to win games, its time, apparantly his time has come.
        As a former player I have always felt that if I were not being used, let me out of here, and at the worst, go home and get a job, at least I would be useful to myself.
        Not apologizing for being a fan of his, to me he was entertaining for two seasons versus watching a bunch of sloths clogging base’s.
        If in fact he is removed from the 25/40 man roster, I wish him well, and know in my mind the suffering of not playing would be over.

        • Tony_Hall

          Paul – What do you think Campana would do on any other team…..start?

          He is the 25th man and a pinch runner, he’s not even a defensive replacement option.

          If the Cubs cut him, if he is claimed (I think he will be) he will be nothing more than the 25th man and pinch runner on that team as well.

  • SuzyS

    Listening to Kaplan on the radio last night…it’s possible the Cubs have adjusted or tweaked their rebuild plan.

    To whit: Kap says he’s heard from multiple sources that the Cubs feel that if they were a small market team, (ie Kansas City etc.), they could have up to 5 100 loss seasons to garner the highest picks and refurbish the system.

    But this is Chicago…”and it isn’t going to fly that way here.” (paraphrased).

    We might not see the fruition of the full plan….because I think the season ticket holders have spoken with their wallets.

    • Tony_Hall

      I also believe that Theo and Co. looked over the organization and realized that they have young position players and have a system that can fill many of those positions over the next 2-5 years already. But from a pitching perspective, especially SP perspective, it is just not there. There is no waves and waves of pitching coming for at least 3-5 years. So, they went out and bought up 4 pitchers, 2 SP’s and 2 swing guys, for less than Sanchez cost total. Very good value, plus they have created depth in the rotation and the ability to allow guys like Cabrera and Vizcaino time to not be rushed.

      But imagine if Cabrera and Vizcaino show they are ready to go by the trade deadline. We could see see SP’s being traded to bring in the prospects that we need.

      • J Daniel

        They are changing their plan a bit unfortunately. They actually need another 100 loss season to gather more high picks which have greater odds of being superstar players. Season ticket sales are probably factoring into the decision.

        Believe me, I want to see them win a world series as much as anybody but really want to see them have a chance EVERY year and the only way to do that is to have a top rotation, a few superstar offensive guys, and then a bunch of role players that do their job well. IMO the best way to get the superstars is to DRAFT them, not overpay for them.

      • mutantbeast

        most likely Baker will get flipped if Vizcaiano proves to be big league worthy. Hes the most proven of this group of signees, hes just got to prove hes healthy.

    • gary3411

      Agreed, I think the full plan is being stunted because of ticket sales. I’ve been hearing many stories of people being called for season tickets who signed up just a few years ago.

      It’s unfortunate, but money talks and the balance between the 2 is very hard to get precise. If too many fans are lost that is just that much less money we can spend in the future.

      • Denver Mike

        I’ve been on the season ticket waiting list since 2005 and I am still 14304 in line so I highly doubt anyone who signed up a few years ago is being called. The Cubs have never, and will never have any problem selling season tix.

  • Tony_Hall

    The rotation

    These guys are in the rotation.


    Seems right, as Feldman was promised an opportunity to be in the rotation, and Baker and Jackson are obviously starters. So what about Wood and Villanueva?

    Well, Baker is now going to be given more time to be ready to go. I bet we don’t see him at Wrigley pitching until mid May at the earliest.

    Which is where Villanueva comes in to play. He will be in the rotation to start the year.

    So what about T Wood? He is out of options, so he is going into ST needing to look like the good Wood that we saw in stretches last year, that’s for sure. But could he be the 2nd lefty in the bullpen? I think we could find out in ST, as if he isn’t traded, I don’t see him beating out Feldman and Villanueva without looking really sharp.

    Now if they all look equal, Wood could start the year in the rotation, only to have a quick hook for him in his bad starts, having good long guys in the pen.

    I still say extend Garza. The price of pitching is high, and he wants to stay here. A rotation built around Garza, Samardzija, E Jackson for the next 3-4 years has the base to be good. Find a way to get a pitcher to put on top and now we have many options for #5 moving forward.

    • J Daniel

      Agree with you 100%!

    • Cubs4ever

      Listening to MLB radio on way to office Duquette and Jody McDonald were ripping E Jackson contract! Used Gil Meche in the same sentence. Ouch! Said if they move him in year 3 they will have to eat a chunk of his contract. Said he is a back end starter. I hope they are wrong but they said this could be the worst contract signed in 2012 when you look back a couple of years from now.

      • cc002600

        That’s ridiculous (not you, them)……
        To me, other then money, which the cubs have boatloads of at this point, what do you have to lose ? It didn’t cost them any players, so who cares ?….and maybe, if he does well, they could trade him.

        Their payroll is STILL very low when compared to other big market teams.

      • mutantbeast

        I got news for Duquette. Mec he was actually a fairly worthy signing, he pitched decently for KC for the first 3 yrs of his contract. The arm problems Meche encountered had more to do than his actual performance, he wasn’t that bad in KC.

    • mutantbeast

      Personally, I think Wood might be Sean Marshall 2.0, a fringe 4/5 starter who turns into a solid bog league setup-type reliever. And I happen to agree with you about Garza, hes still under 30 and has a solid track record, though hes not a TOR starter.

  • Neil

    Pirates reportedly sign Liriano to a 2-year, $14 million contract

  • Aaron

    I’ve seen many comments on here and elsewhere about the Cubs changing their plan, etc with the recent signings. Let’s keep in mind that they were approaching contention with their winning streak near the deadline last year, but they dealt their rotation away…at least the effective parts. The reason I bring that up is because they tanked thereafter. This means they can still appear competitive from the outset this year and hover around .500 and sell off to finish well below next year if they feel so inclined. Or they could surprise everyone and make the playoffs. It’s a win-win scenario and one I’ve advocated for a long time.
    The other thing that’s overrated to some degree is draft positioning. There are plenty All-Stars that weren’t even selected in the top rounds. That means if the improve scouting and player development, they can find gems anywhere. It seems they’ve already done so. Then, this gives the tr

    • DWalker

      I think perhaps draft postioning as far as quality of players goes, is perhaps becoming secondary to the money associated with those positions with all the caps in place. Either way, I still think they plan to be sellers at the deadline with these short signings looking for prospects. Its the only market now to buy additional prospects for the finaciallly heavy teams needing prospects.

      • Aaron

        Sorry my comment got cut off. What I was getting at is that they can essentially do the same thing as the draft, but just through FA and deadline deals.

        For instance…Consider what the Mets did with Dickey. He was dealt for D’Arnaud and Syndergaard, two top prospects that were both first round draft picks. Before that, Beltran was dealt for Wheeler straight up. Wheeler was a first rounder.

        What the Cubs can look to do in the future is sign guys like Baker, Feldman, Jackson, etc., and deal them at the deadline for first round picks from the last 2 years, and just wind up in the same spot they would have been had they lost 100 games per year, but with greater certainty, because those guys would have time already in pro ball.

        That’s the smart way of doing business, rebuilding a major market team with cash to spend.

        This is what I never understood about Hendry, why he’d always hang onto these veteran players, even when they were losing.

        What I hope happens is that they look to deal Marmol, DeJesus, Soriano, and Barney before the season, and keep stockpiling.

        I love Domonic Brown of the Phillies, and hope they can somehow land him for Soriano. Marmol still has value too, and Barney, after his Gold Glove, certainly has value. They need to find a Wheeler-type in one of those deals.

        • Ray Ray

          I have to disagree with the value you are putting on guys like Baker,Feldman, Villanueva, Jacjson etc. I highly doubt they could net a former 1st round draft pick who has upside. Dickey won the Cy Young and is a difference maker. Beltran is a difference maker. No team will give up a top prospect for a 4 or 5 starter. These players you mentioned will net mid level prospects at best.

          • Richard Hood

            Really? Look at the hall for Mahome and Johnson last year. At the beginning of the year if you would have told me he would be flipped for that type of value I would have never thought it possible. Now is that going to happen again? Probably not because Baker is an injury Risk and Fieldman never really had huge value but never say never. This FO has proven to be good at getting a lot of value out of any asset they trade. Also remember that Marmol may have the most value of any of these guys if he continues on his 2nd half.

    • Brp921

      Absolutely agree Aaron, I’m not making any predictions but who’s to say what can happen. There have been a lot of teams come out of nowhere. How many times have we seen a team, with the wild card scenario, have a great season record only to lose to a team who barely made it in but got hot at the right time. The game is not played for draft picks, it’s played to win championships. Plus, like you say, if we aren’t in it in July we can trade some of these guys for prospects.

  • Tony_Hall

    Rosario and Beliveau claimed on waivers. I guess it does make sense, the bullpen has a lot of competition with the guys from the rotation that don’t make the rotation out of ST and the 6th/7th bullpen guys are the least valuable and easiest to replace players on your roster, next to the 5th OF and 6 IF.