(MCT) — CHICAGO — After playing for seven teams in 10 seasons, Edwin Jackson hopes he finally has found a baseball home with the Cubs.
Of course, with the Cubs’ recent sign-and-trade strategy, Jackson may not want to permanently unpack his suitcases, even though Cubs management insists his four-year contract is a long-term part of their massive rebuilding project.
“We want to put a great team on the field every year and we’ve also been clear that we’re building for something that we think is very special,” general manager Jed Hoyer said Wednesday at the team’s unveiling of their $52 million investment. “We wanted to make sure any free-agent signings of this magnitude fit into that plan.”
Jackson, 29, has started at least 30 games in each of the last six seasons, going 64-67.
“He has proven his durability and he has proven his talent, “ Hoyer said, “but he is also still at an age where we think he can get even better and fit right in what we’re trying to do age-wise and talent-wise. He can help us a lot in 2013, but he also can be a part of the core that we’re trying to build.”
In the last three seasons, Jackson has pitched for such contenders as the White Sox, Cardinals and Nationals. Along with a short stint with the Diamondbacks, his record during that stretch is 32-32.
So, after being involved in pennant races, why would a free agent choose a team that lost 101 games last season?
“You look at our team on paper and there’s a lot of potential,” he said. “I’ve been on a lot of teams, you look on paper and nobody expected you to do anything and you end up going to the World Series or making the playoffs.
“I feel like, with the additions we have, we can win.”
Hoyer said Jackson’s Travel Channel baseball life was not because he is a proverbial “clubhouse cancer” but more because teams traded him for something in return before free agency.
“We did a lot of work on him as a teammate and it’s really positive,” Hoyer said. “The reasons for him moving around certainly weren’t because he wasn’t a good teammate or didn’t work hard. It was (more) contractual.”
In an interesting twist to free agent recruitment, Hoyer and manager Dale Sveum were interviewing Jackson in Newport Beach, Calif., at the very same time Chairman Tom Ricketts and President Theo Epstein were in Florida trying to woo Anibal Sanchez.
First choice Sanchez spurned the Cubs’ offer to return to the Tigers. Jackson then became their focus.
“I figured if they were taking the time to fly out to talk to me, regardless of what happened, they definitely had a strong interest in me,” Jackson said.
Jackson said it helped that fiancee Erika Zanders — who is to marry Jackson on Saturday — liked Sveum.
Apparently, recruiting trips are over for now. Hoyer and Epstein appear to be done with major offseason acquisitions.
“We’re working on some stuff, but nothing’s that’s close,” Hoyer said.
He also said that rehabbing starter Matt Garza’s winter throwing program is going well. Garza — who strongly endorsed the Cubs to his former Rays teammate Jackson — didn’t pitch after July 19 because of a stress reaction in his right elbow but hopes to be at full steam during spring training.
“It all has been good so far,” Hoyer said. “He has been happy and, in some ways, I really rely on his moods and how he feels about it. He has been excited about his process.”