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.

Orioles “have begun fielding calls of interest” on Manny Machado

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Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports Thursday that the Orioles “are said to have begun fielding calls of interest” on superstar Manny Machado and “are close to the point of seriously weighing whether to trade him.”

You’d think it would be a no-brainer for the last-place O’s to flip Machado — an impending free agent — for prospects, but Heyman notes there is “still a question whether or not longtime Orioles owner Peter Angelos” will give the go-ahead. One person familiar with the situation put it a “50-50” likelihood. Another suggested that it would take a massive return, which, sure.

Machado entered play Thursday with a sensational .328/.405/.635 batting line, 15 home runs, and an MLB-leading 43 RBI in 49 games. It’d be a real shock if he’s still wearing an O’s uniform by the end of July.

Heyman reported previously that at least nine teams made aggressive plays for Machado this winter, including the Cubs, Phillies, Dodgers, Indians, Diamondbacks, Yankees, Red Sox, White Sox, and Cardinals. A whole lot of those teams still make sense here in late May — maybe all of them except the White Sox.