Once it became clear that nothing was going to break last night, I packed it in (intermittently awaking in the middle of the night to check my phone, because I can’t help myself). Although nothing formal did break overnight, there were some additional whispers – so here’s your early morning update:
- Dave Kaplan says the Cubs are looking finalize their deal with Carlos Villanueva, which I presume means as soon as today. Villanueva – not Edwin Jackson – was the back-up plan to which Kap referred last week during the Anibal Sanchez madness. That is to say, the Cubs put their pursuit of Villanueva on hold when it looked like they might get Sanchez.
- … which means that the Cubs have always been in pursuit of, and wanted, Edwin Jackson. Let yourself consider the possibility of adding both Jackson and Sanchez, but only for a moment, for it will make you the sadz.
- Kap adds that the Cubs are trying to get a deal done with Jackson to show improvement in 2013, which will help entice free agents next year when they actually look to spend big. I like that plan so long as it doesn’t prohibit them from flipping assets for prospects mid-season if it looks like the 2013 team is not competitive. I’m not interested in seeing the Cubs lose 100 again, but I’m also not interested in seeing them hold onto everyone just so they can finish 70-92.
- Matt Garza made it to Twitter last night, but didn’t welcome either Villanueva or Jackson to the Cubs. Instead, he pulled the cryptic card on us, tweeting first that he wondered what uniform number Jackson is going to wear (he most recently wore 33, but he’s bounced around numbers, including a pit stop on 22 – Garza’s current number). When a fan cautioned Matt not to jinx things, Garza tweeted that he “know[s] something you don’t know.” The two played a season together back in 2008 in Tampa Bay, so perhaps they’re friends. It’s interesting, but this is definitely something short of confirmation. Keep in mind: Garza is aware of the fascination the fans have with this stuff, and he’s a fun-loving guy.
- Jim Bowden reported that the Cubs are the front-runner for Jackson, and the offer is believed to be in the four-year, $52 million range. That’s the ballpark I’d projected, too, so I buy that part. Bowden reported a couple days ago that it was down to the Cubs and Rangers, and recent reports have suggested that the Rangers have bowed out, so Bowden could be on the money here. To be fair, however, he hasn’t had a great track record in recent years, so I’ll consider this to be just a little more smoke, and nothing more.
- UPDATE: Buster Olney just now said that the Cubs have made “strong progress” on a four-year, $52 million deal for Jackson.
- There’s a report floating around from “Carl Butts” on Twitter that Villanueva’s deal with the Cubs will be two years for $8.5 million plus a $6.5 million mutual option with a $1 million buyout. That may well end up being the case, but I have some suspicions about Carl. His Twitter bio says that he used to write for FanGraphs (I can find no articles), and that he currently writes for the L.A. Times (I can find no bylines and no bio). His Twitter profile image is a stock photo of a guy holding a phone, which is used in a bunch of insurance company literature. So, that could all mean that he’s super anonymous (but pretends as though he’s not being anonymous), or that it’s completely bogus. I’ll leave that to you, discerning reader.
- If the Cubs do manage to add both Villanueva and Jackson, we’ll have to get back to the roster crunch: even before adding Nate Schierholtz, the Cubs are at 40. That would make three spots the Cubs have to clear. They could dump a fringe arm or two, but will have some tough choices to make on guys like Steve Clevenger and Tony Campana. You’d like to see a trade, but obviously other teams have crowded 40-man rosters, too.