The Cubs wasted no time bouncing back from losing Anibal Sanchez to the Detroit Tigers last week - closing in Wednesday on what appeared to be a short-term deal for right-hander Carlos Villanueva while continuing talks on a potential long-term deal with right-hander Edwin Jackson.
One report that the Cubs had a deal done with Villanueva Wednesday afternoon was premature, but nothing appeared to be holding up the would-be agreement for the former Milwaukee Brewers reliever who made 29 starts for the Toronto Blue Jays over the past two seasons (plus 42 relief appearances).
Villanueva, 29, had made it clear he wanted an opportunity to earn a regular starting job as he hit the free agent market for the first time.
More intriguing are ongoing discussions with Jackson, 29, who is said to be seeking a four-year deal, with the list of serious suitors reportedly down to two (also Texas).
The historically durable Jackson has pitched for six teams in five years, including the White Sox, but the 2009 All-Star is widely regarded as a good teammate, strong clubhouse presence and has contributed to three playoff teams, including two World Series teams.
He made $11 million as a first-year free agent for the Washington Nationals in 2012, going 10-11 with a 4.03 ERA in 31 starts for the N.L. East champs.
The Cubs last week were prepared to commit $77.5 million over five years to Sanchez.
Without Jackson, the Cubs' would go to spring training with six experienced starters: Matt Garza, Jeff Samardzija, Scott Baker, Scott Feldman, Villanueva and Travis Wood.
Baker (all of 2012) and Garza (final two months) both finished last season on the disabled list because of elbow injuries.
Like Baker, another Cubs' starter, Arodys Vizcaino, is coming off Tommy John surgery rehab. He's expected to be considered for a starting job at some point next season.