UPDATE 8:30am ET: The Cubs are making "strong progress" on their four-year, $52 million offer for the right-hander, reports Buster Olney of ESPN.
ORIGINAL: While the Cubs missed out on signing free-agent righty Anibal Sanchez, they have their eyes locked on a consolation prize: Edwin Jackson. According to ESPN's Jim Bowden, Chicago is the front-runner for the right-hander's services, in head-to-head competition with the Rangers.
Jackson, who has pitched for seven teams over the course of his 10-year big-league career, is looking for his first-ever long-term pact. The northpaw signed a one-year deal with the Washington Nationals for the 2012 season, then fired agent Scott Boras, perhaps due to the lack of multi-year offers. Now represented by Greg Genske, Jackson is said to have his sights on a four-year contract in the $50 million range.
The 29-year-old Jackson is a steady hand in the rotation, good for about 200 innings of slightly above league-average ball. In 2012, he hurled 189.2 innings for Washington, allowing a full-season career-low of 8.2 hits per nine innings while upping his strikeout rate from 5.9 K/9 to 8.0 K/9.
The Cubs have already added two starters to their rotation this offseason, nabbing right-handers Scott Baker and Scott Feldman on one-year deals, and are reportedly closing in on a deal for Carlos Villanueva as well. If the club is able to land both Jackson and Villanueva, the latter player would probably move to the bullpen and make the odd spot start.