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Cubs close in on Carlos Villanueva, in talks with Edwin Jackson

FILE - In this  Oct. 23 2011 file phoSt. Louis Cardinals pitcher EdwJacksthrows during second inning Game 4 baseball's

FILE - In this Oct. 23, 2011 file photo, St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Edwin Jackson throws during the second inning of Game 4 of baseball's World Series against the Texas Rangers in Arlington, Texas. Jackson agreed Thursday, Feb. 2, 2012, to a one-year contract with the Washington Nationals. The team said the agreement is pending a physical. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez, File)

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Updated: January 21, 2013 4:03PM



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.

A report that the Cubs had a deal with Villanueva on Wednesday afternoon was premature, but nothing appeared to be holding up an agreement with the former Milwaukee Brewers reliever who made 29 starts for the Toronto Blue Jays the last two seasons (plus 42 relief appearances).

Villanueva, 29, had made it clear he wanted an opportunity to earn a 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. His list of serious suitors reportedly is down to the Cubs, Texas Rangers and Cleveland Indians.

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 and strong clubhouse presence. He has contributed to three playoff teams, including two World Series teams. He also has proved to be durable, averaging about 199 innings in the last five years.

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 National League East champs.

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.

Arodys Vizcaino, who’s coming off Tommy John surgery, is expected to be considered for a starting job at some point next season.



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