Cubs agree to deal with righty Carlos Villanueva

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From Jon Heyman of CBS Sports comes word that the Cubs have agreed to a contract with free agent right-hander Carlos Villanueva. No word yet on the financial terms of the deal. The length is also a mystery, but chances are it’s a one-year pact.

Villanueva posted a decent 4.16 ERA, 1.27 WHIP and 122/46 K/BB ratio in 125 1/3 innings — 16 starts and 22 relief appearances — this past season for the Blue Jays. He will serve as a starter in Chicago.

The Cubs’ rotation at the beginning of 2013 will go Matt Garza, Jeff Samardzija, Travis Wood, Scott Feldman then Villanueva.

And Scott Baker should be recovered from Tommy John elbow surgery by May.

We’re not expecting the Cubs to be contenders or anything, but that’s not a bad group.

Blue Jays, Josh Donaldson to table extension talks

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Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports that the Blue Jays and third baseman Josh Donaldson are tabling extension talks as the two sides weren’t able to build any momentum towards agreement on a new contract.

Donaldson said, “We’re not quite there. That, to me, right now is not the major focus and I’m turning the page.” He added, “I want to play this season and really focus on winning games because, ultimately, our goal is to win a World Series and I don’t want to hinder that at all.” Donaldson also said he expects to hit free agency.

The 32-year-old avoided arbitration with the Blue Jays last month, agreeing on a $23 million salary for the 2018 season. He’s a free agent at season’s end. Last year, the three-time All-Star hit .270/.385/.559 with 33 home runs, 78 RBI, and 65 runs scored in 496 plate appearances. Donaldson missed six weeks in the first half with a calf injury, but was able to return and post terrific numbers, so his health — at least that aspect of it — shouldn’t be a concern going into spring training.

If Donaldson does reach free agency, he’ll join a star-studded group that will likely also include Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Charlie Blackmon, and A.J. Pollock.