Cubs court two at once, land Edwin Jackson

CHICAGO -- This offseason the Chicago Cubs identified Anibal Sanchez and Edwin Jackson as the two free-agent starting pitchers who best fit their criteria.

Sanchez and Jackson were talented enough to help the team improve in the present, but they were also young enough to be part of their future core.

The Cubs only wanted to add one pitcher though.

On Dec. 14, the Cubs coincidentally delivered their pitch to both free agents at the exact same time. Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts and team president Theo Epstein met with Sanchez in Miami. General manager Jed Hoyer and manager Dale Sveum met with Jackson in Newport Beach, Calif.

News of the Sanchez meeting found its way to the internet quickly. But within a day, he decided to pass on the Cubs’ offer for slightly more money with the Detroit Tigers and signed a five-year, $80 million contract.

The Cubs’ focus immediately narrowed to Jackson, and this time they weren’t going to lose out. The right-handed Jackson and the Cubs agreed to a four-year deal worth $52 million, including an $8 million signing bonus with annual salaries of $11 million per year, according to a Cubs source. On Wednesday, the Cubs introduced Jackson at a news conference at Wrigley Field.

“It’s hard to sign free-agent players in general,” Hoyer said on Wednesday. “We knew that we were going to go after both guys. So Dale and I took the meeting in California, and Tom and Theo went to Florida. We did a better job of hiding ours.

“All along we sort of operate on parallel tracks, and both guys fit what we’re looking for as far as being 28 (Jackson is 29), being a part of our core. That was sort of interesting -- two camps. It sort of ended up that way schedule-wise. It wasn’t intentional.”