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We know how this dance goes, but here’s what’s being reported …

Jon Heyman says the Chicago Cubs have agreed to terms with free agent pitcher Carlos Villanueva, and Ken Rosenthal says the Cubs are “close” to signing him. I cannot appropriately caution you enough – no signing is official. But these credible reports say the Cubs are very close to agreeing, or have already agreed, with Villanueva on a deal. No word on the terms yet.

The signing, if it goes through, would be the Cubs’ third (possible) starting pitcher signing of the Winter, after Scott Baker and Scott Feldman, and would give them six legitimate starting options. What the signing would mean for the Cubs’ pursuit of Edwin Jackson, if that is still ongoing, remains unclear. Villanueva, 29, was a guy I mentioned back in September as a reasonable target for the Cubs, so the signing doesn’t come as a complete shock.

He is looking for a starting job, so you’ve got to figure the Cubs have some intentions of giving him a shot. He can also work in a swing role, however, as he’s done for the last couple years. Before we hear more, it’s probably not accurate to say he’s definitely being signed as a starter.

Many updates to follow …

UPDATE (6:05pm CT): It’s fair to wonder if Villanueva was a back-up plan to the back-up plan that was Edwin Jackson. His signing gives the Cubs six starters, and it would be hard to convince Jackson to come on board as well, unless one of the Scotts is being displaced from the rotations (seems like a dick move), or Baker isn’t going to be ready until much later in the season than suspected (haven’t heard anything like that), or there are concerns about Matt Garza’s recovery (haven’t heard anything like that), or the Cubs plan to trade a pitcher, or the Cubs plan to use Villanueva out of the pen.

UPDATE 2 (6:10pm CT): I’ve mentioned it before, but since I’m doing the updating thing, I’ll mention it again – for his career, Villanueva has been much better out of the bullpen (3.76 ERA, 1.230 WHIP) than out of the rotation (4.80 ERA, 1.365 WHIP). Then again, the only season in his career where he pitched exclusively out of the bullpen (2010), his K-rate was huge (11.4 per 9), but his ERA was 4.61 and his WHIP was 1.329. This guy is something of an enigma.

UPDATE 3 (6:23pm CT): Another I’m-digging-around-at-the-stats-while-I-wait-on-more-info update – in 2012, as a starter, Villanueva’s advanced stats were really excellent. His K% was 22.9% (good), his BB% was 6.7% (good) (and very good when you put those two together), and his xFIP was 3.97 (good). Add in a 1.22 WHIP, and you’ve got a guy who was a pretty darn good back-of-the-rotation starter in 2012 on just about any team.

UPDATE 4 (6:25pm CT): Gordon Wittenmyer says there “appears to be actual traction” to these reports, and then he made a joke about Villanueva taking the offer back to the Jays. *ba-dum-ching*

UPDATE 5 (6:35pm CT): This time Carrie Muskat provides the authoritative “slow your roll,” tweeting that the Cubs are talking to BOTH Villanueva and Jackson right now, and there is nothing done. This is very interesting because not only does it poo-poo Heyman’s report, but it also suggests the Cubs are either indeed pursuing both Villanueva and Jackson to try and sign both, or the Cubs are playing them off of each other to try and get the best deal from one of them. Seems like the latter is more likely, given the rotation, but I’d be very intrigued if it’s the former.

UPDATE 6 (6:37pm CT): Worth pointing out, by the way, that the Muskat tweet is her confirmed serious interest by the Cubs in Jackson. Obviously we all pretty much believed that was true at this point, but it’s a nice additional log on the fire.

UPDATE 7 (6:39pm CT): Patrick Mooney makes it sound like Villanueva is going to happen, “Cubs working toward finalizing agreement with Carlos Villanueva, to create depth and competition within rotation.” He tends not to say things like that if they’re likely to fall through. Depth and competition are good things, and suggest that no promises have been made. Also a good thing.

UPDATE 8 (6:40pm CT): Oh my, a very interesting tweet from Heyman: “Edwin Jackson is in play for #cubs. #rangers have some interest. #padres stopped at 3 yrs and bowed out yesterday.” Given that Heyman is the one who reported the Villanueva signing, this strongly suggests the Cubs are indeed in on BOTH pitchers. Or Heyman forgot what he said 30 minutes ago and is regurgitating stuff we already knew …

UPDATE 9 (7:01pm CT): Phil Rogers agrees with Muskat that the Cubs are closing in on Villanueva, but it definitely isn’t done. And they are also interested in Edwin Jackson – as in, the Cubs want to sign both.

UPDATE 10 (7:05pm CT): I said it earlier, but I’ll say it more plainly here: if the Cubs do indeed sign both Villanueva and Jackson (heck, the fact that they want to sign both), you’ve got to wonder about the Baker and Garza rehabs. Baker was supposed to be ready to go in April, and Garza has been throwing and supposedly feeling fine. Maybe they aren’t expected to be ready to go in April after all? Something to consider.

UPDATE 11 (7:19pm CT): There wasn’t too much doubt, but Muskat confirms that the Cubs are going after both Villanueva and Jackson.

UPDATE 12 (7:28pm CT): Cold water from Rosenthal, who says the Indians are also in on Edwin Jackson, and the bidding will go to at least four years (that part was expected, I suppose). At least the Cubs wouldn’t necessarily be bidding against a deep-pocketed, competitive team. Rosenthal says the Indians probably couldn’t get both Nick Swisher and Jackson, so there’s a rooting interest for you.

UPDATE 13 (7:45pm CT): Heyman says the Edwin Jackson bidding is up around four years and $50 million, which is in the area of what I expected. Probably a bit more money, even. As for Villanueva, no one has yet even speculated on the terms. Two years and $10 to $12 million? One year and an option? That’s me speculating.

UPDATE 14 (8:08pm CT): Muskat did a full write-up on these twin rumors, so she’s got some very good sources tonight (she tends not to do full write-ups on these things unless she’s reached a certain level of confidence). It doesn’t add a ton more that we didn’t already hear tonight, but she suggests that the Cubs’ official line on adding two more starters would be concerns about depth in the face of Baker recovering from Tommy John surgery, and Garza recovering from his elbow injury. The Villanueva deal, by the way, is in the “finalizing details” stage.

  • Twiz

    I don’t want to trade Samarzdjia because I think he will break out this year, nothing to back it up, just my opinion, and because he will always have a special place in my heart as a golden domer.

  • brian

    I’m not even going to doubt a Theo signing. If he thinks Edwin for 4 yr 52 mil is a good deal, itll be a good deal for us. Watch Edwin be a solid #3 for us.

    • Mat B.

      Yeah, that trade of Tyler Colvin and D.J. LeMaiheau was a great deal too. Theo can do no wrong.

      • Frank

        The trade wasn’t great, no. But LeMaiheu is average at best–and we have a ton of middle infield prospects. Stewart has not been good, but he has been hurt. Everyone always points to Colvin–Look at his stats outside of Coors–.244 AVG, .274 OBP, .431 SLG, .687 OPS–average at best, maybe below. That’s the Colvin we would’ve had.

        • Mat B.

          Colvin scored 62 runs and drove in 72. DeJesus scored 76 and drove drove in 50. That’s + 8 in favor of Colvin and he did it in 420 at bats while DeJesus had 506 at bats. I’ll take the extra production.

          • bbmoney

            No confounding variables there. Although admittedly the deal was not a ‘win’ for the Cubs in 2012.

  • Timmy

    Has anyone thought that the Cubs can’t sign anyone of note because players are generally aware that the management doesn’t want to win?

    “We’ll win much later” isn’t exactly an attractive pitch to talent.

    • bbmoney

      No, must just be you.

      • http://facebook #1cubsfan2013

        ur the only one who thanks that look at wat they have been doing this past week

      • timmy

        Then apparently I’m the last Cubs fan with common sense.

        • Stinky Pete

          Then it’s not that common, is it?

  • HR Trucker

    2/yr 8.5 for Vill……..option on yr 3, I’ll call that a steal. Get the next one done boys. Stock and shock this year.

  • CityCub

    Is there any updates on these 2 situations?

    • HR Trucker

      We got Vill is what Twitter says for 2/yr 8.5mil with option on year 6.5 and a 1 million buyout from @CarlButtsMLB

      • Vince

        Is that for real? Carl Butts just sounds like a made up prank phone call name lol

        • HR Trucker

          LA Times and retweet by Luke Blaize

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

            Can’t verify it from anywhere else yet. Still digging.

            I wouldn’t consider it final yet, but the deal is likely to look a lot like that.

  • http://facebook legen wait for it dary

    u believe wat u hear on twitter

    • HR Trucker

      LA Times retweet by Luke Blaize

      • http://facebook legen wait for it dary

        i was just kidding but alot of times people on twitter are wrong

    • cubbiesOHcubbies

      they can’t put it on the internet if it isn’t true……

  • Matt

    If they can get both Villanueva and Jackson that would be a great opportunity. You are basically building a team where you can then trade/build from your strength (pitching). With the lack of impact/young offensive players in Free Agency you are able to trade a pitcher or two and get a return of young position players to fill your needs. For example, our potential rotation would consist of 5 of the 7: Garza, Shark, Wood, Villanueva, Jackson, Feldman, Baker. I know people might not like the idea but trading Shark should be able to bring back a nice little haul of talent. Or if Baker starts off still rehabbing we could trade Garza mid season if we don’t extend him and Baker could slide into the rotation or Baker or Feldman or Wood could be trade candidates. Basically we could fill our holes on offense by utilizing our depth and strength of pitching. I like that idea because it is hard to find young offensive talent through free agency now a days.

    • http://401klogic.net Westbound Willie

      Great opportunity for who?

    • Carne Harris

      Same applies with all the relievers they’re going after. Good strategy, I agree. If we’re not competing at the deadline next year we might be able to flip pitchers for 2 to 3 times as big a haul as we had last year. Just call us Arms ‘R Us.

  • http://bleachernation Ferris

    add a lefty like jp howell….marmol is a nice trade piece as well as we stand today,if these two deals are done.

    garza
    shark
    jackson
    baker
    villenueva/feldman/wood.

    cf-dejesus
    ss-castro
    1b-rizzo
    lf-sori
    3b-stewart
    rf-shurholtz/sappelt
    2b-barney
    c-castilla

    thats not that bad….while were rebuilding…….We trade sori an marmol if the right deals there,dont give them away like so many suggest on here. sori did hit 32/103 last yr an marmol struck out 72 in 55in. so there not scrubs. I can also see us sign bourn and trading dejesus to tx,phil, or sea.

  • Njriv

    Oh boy,Matt Garza on Twitter @Gdeuceswild tweeted at 1:50 AM on Thu, Dec 20, 2012:
    “Wonder what number Jackson is gonna wear??? #wondering”

    • Vince

      Hahaha too funny…

      A fan told him not to jinx it and Garza replied “I know something you don’t know”

    • http://bleachernation.com someday…2015?

      I still won’t believe any deal is done until I see the player at the introductory press conference.

    • Carne Harris

      Garza’s such a spaz. Gotta love him. This will be the third player he welcomed to the team. The other two are now a National and a Tiger.

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

    Villanueva may end up at two years and an option, but that Carl Butts guy is completely bogus. No bio or bylines at the LA Times (it’s a pretty unique name … ), and he’s using a stock insurance company photo as his profile picture on Twitter.

  • Bryan

    Whats the problem with letting wood start the year in AAA? Unless he blows the doors off in Spring Training. Then have Villanueva be your swing starter. Say baker cant come back or will need some extra rest throughout the year then the villanueva signing is perfect. Please please please sign with the cubbies edwin. Its not like he is gonna win the cy youg but he is a significant improvement over Raley, Rusin, or Wood. I say let those three work in triple AAA and if we need them throughout the year we can call up the one with the hottest hand.

    This would all make sense as long as Wood has options, which i do not no. Any thoughts?

    Go Cubs Go

    • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com Kyle

      Wood is out of options and would have to clear waivers, which he likely wouldn’t.

  • jesus zuniga

    Trade shark for mike ott.trade sori n marmol.add quality pitching equals off season success.

  • Markymark

    Question since we are going to have depth in our
    Starting rotation and considering we get both ejax and
    Cvill what did yous think about trading shark to San Diego
    For chase headley? And maybe spec on either end to
    Get the deal done. Considering he man command
    A large contract next year.

  • myporsche

    U can bet that feldman and baker will be flipped at the deadline. Theyve got almost the same contract that maholm got. Anyone signing for 2-3 yrs will get flipped. If we sign e jax for 4 yrs, he will not be traded unless we get a great deal

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