Cubs Front-Runner For Edwin Jackson

10:03pm: Bowden reports (on Twitter) that the Cubs are now the front-runner for Jackson. He says a four-year deal worth approximately $52MM is in the ballpark.

WEDNESDAY, 7:31pm: The Indians are in talks with Jackson and the right-hander should get at least four years, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). Jon Heyman of hears the bidding is up to $50MM (Twitter link). Rosenthal adds that while Cleveland also has interest in Nick Swisher, they probably can't afford both players.

TUESDAY: The market for free agent starter Edwin Jackson has narrowed to the Cubs and Rangers, reports ESPN's Jim Bowden (Twitter link). The Padres dropped out of the running for Jackson since the team didn't want to make a four-year commitment to the right-hander. The Angels, Twins, Blue Jays and Brewers have also been rumored to be interested in Jackson at various points this offseason.

Jackson represents a backup plan for both Chicago and Texas, as the two teams were recently outbid for other major free agent starters (Anibal Sanchez and Zack Greinke, respectively). In the Cubs' case, their pursuit of Jackson represents another sign that the team is prepared to spend significant money in on free agent pitching and their willingness to spend $77MM for Sanchez wasn't just a singular offer for a particular player, though Jackson's eventual deal will be much less than $77MM.

While Jackson isn't the ace-level starter that the Rangers were looking for in Greinke, Jackson would still be a very solid innings-eating addition to a rotation that already includes Yu Darvish, Matt Harrison, Derek Holland and Colby Lewis. Acquiring Jackson would mean that Texas could keep Alexi Ogando and Martin Perez in the bullpen or the minors as rotation depth.

We heard last week that the Padres were "strongly pursuing" Jackson but FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reported that San Diego weren't prepared to offer a $12-$13MM average annual salary or a commitment of four or five years. As's Corey Brock puts it, Padres GM Josh Byrnes is "unwilling to go [as long as] four years on anyone." The Friars have signed Jason Marquis to a one-year contract this winter and have been connected to such pitchers as Shaun Marcum, Ubaldo Jimenez and Justin Masterson.

Mike Axisa contributed to this post.

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