Chicago is also said to be on the verge of signing Edwin Jackson to a four-year, $52 million deal, which means the Cubs will have added Jackson, Villanueva, Scott Feldman, and Scott Baker to a rotation that includes holdovers Matt Garza, Jeff Samardzija, and Travis Wood. That’s seven starters for five spots, but Baker may not be ready for Opening Day following Tommy John elbow surgery.
Villanueva had a lot of success as a starter in the minors, but has spent most of his big-league career as a long reliever and has been mediocre when called on to make spot starts. He started 16 times for Toronto in 2012, struggling to keep the ball in the ballpark while posting a 4.50 ERA, but also had an 86/25 K/BB in 92 innings. If given a chance to build up his arm strength as a full-time starter at age 29 he could provide nice value.
It’s always a bit deceiving to see offseason workout photos of players who are said to be getting into great shape because guys in those pics are wearing compression shirts and crap and we’re used to seeing them in baseball uniforms. I remember pics of Miguel Cabrera and David Ortiz in the offseason looking svelte, only to see them in uniform come spring as their familiar beefy selves. Uniforms are often loose and billowy and the players wear a couple of layers when they’re suited up, so at least visually speaking it’s better to compare apples to apples.