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Carlos Villanueva’s deal with Cubs worth $10 million over two years

Dec 20, 2012, 9:40 AM EDT

carlos villanueva getty Getty Images

Carlos Villanueva agreeing to sign with the Cubs was first reported last night and now Jon Heyman of has the details: $10 million for two years.

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.

  1. Old Gator - Dec 20, 2012 at 9:46 AM

    Sixty two million for two number four starters. Is this class warfare?

    • tashkalucy - Dec 20, 2012 at 11:07 AM

      Oh, but they’re rebuilding…..

      See my comments below.

  2. proudlycanadian - Dec 20, 2012 at 9:48 AM

    Actually, Villanueva has been very good during his starts in Toronto. Unfortunately, he runs out of gas in September and consequently the ERA for the year rises. He is a capable starter, but the Jays did not want him to be a full time starter because of stamina issues.

    The majority of Jays fans are happy for him and are pleased that he will get a nice payday.

    • paperlions - Dec 20, 2012 at 10:42 AM

      His career numbers are far better as a reliever than as a starter. As a starter, he doesn’t miss bats, resulting in an ERA (and xFIP) that are one run higher when he starts (in the 4.8s instead of 3.8s)

      • paperlions - Dec 20, 2012 at 11:31 AM

        Villanueva as starter: ERA 4.80, K/9 6.49 xFIP 4.84

        Villanueva as reliever: ERA 3.76, K/9 9.04, xFIP 3.84

    • paint771 - Dec 20, 2012 at 10:52 AM

      What he said. Villanueva is not as bad as his numbers look, although he is essentially a long reliever on a good rotation, a swing-man on an above-average or in flux one, or a 4th or 5th starter on a mediocre to poor one.

      Still, was too bad to lose him – he did everything the Jays ever asked of him without complaint, and I think guys like this are actually undervalued. Sure he just seems like a mediocre-at-best starter, but you wait until 2 of your top 5 go down, or until you have a starter that doesn’t make it out of the second or third, and you’ll be damn glad you have a guy like Carlos around.

    • proudlycanadian - Dec 20, 2012 at 11:57 AM

      Career numbers can hide a lot of positives. Last season, Villanueva had a 3.10 ERA at the end of August before he ran out of gas and his ERA rose to 4.16 (starting and relieving). In September, he made 5 starts and gave up 24 runs in 26 and 2/3 innings. Prior to running out of gas, he was pitching extremely well as a starter. He can be a very effective starter for the Cubs, but if they are wise, they will skip him several times in order to keep him fresh.

      • paperlions - Dec 20, 2012 at 3:11 PM

        Actually, it is small sample sizes that can hide both weaknesses and true ability. To argue that more information is less informative is not particularly well grounded. Also, “running out of gas” after starting for 6 weeks is not an argument for making a guy a starter.

  3. temporarilyexiled - Dec 20, 2012 at 10:01 AM

    If the Cubs end up trading excess starters for good value, and they can manage the cost of getting Jackson, (player-favorable market, ya think?) these incremental steps actually make sense.

    That said, how many ifs have I referenced?

    The guys they’re getting have to be good, the Cubs have to be able to throw away money on Jackson, and they have to get good value from more trades.

    Seeing as the world ends tomorrow, I guess it’ll all work out.

  4. toreup - Dec 20, 2012 at 10:12 AM

    Cubs 40 man is getting crazy. Trade coming soon

  5. tashkalucy - Dec 20, 2012 at 11:06 AM

    Here – I just posted this on the Edwin Jackson article. It fits here as well…..

    Theo Epstein overpaying so-so pitchers on long-term contracts is par for the course. He’s done that since day one with the Red Sox.

    I’m having trouble following this massive rebuild that he and Hoyer are doing. In most successful rebuilds I’ve seen a team may pick up a few older veterans to pitch and play the field, having them set a tone for the younger players by being an example as to how a major leaguer prepares for games, handles pressure situations, etc. But these guys are trading some vets then signing others, releasing vets then signing them back…..I don’t see a plan here, just a lot of hedging. A few months ago Epstein was talking about how he was trading away vet pitchers but in a few years he would be trading for vet pitchers as the team prepared to make its move. Now he’s signing vet pitchers. What’s this signing about? Is he signing the guy to trade him for prospects in a year a la the Miami Marlins? How about giving the young arms that the Cubs have innings at the major league level – isn’t that what rebuilding is all about?

    I always felt Epstein was radically overrated. He spent like kid in a candy store with an unlimited credit card – especially for pitchers – most of whom were disappointments until John Farrell showed up as pitching coach and and made Epstein and Francona look good. I mean come ‘on, Cherington did not run the Red Sox into the ground in one year on his own – Epstein left a mess there that anyone could see.

    This wildly publicized rebuild that the Cubs are doing with no one asking what’s going on just amazes me. At the same time, here is Jon Daniels over in Texas, a guy that has built a contending team from nxt to nothing that went to WS two years in a row, has built a stocked farm system, is staying within a budget, and this guy is slammed because Hamilton left and Daniels made a remark about being “disappointed”. The national sports media has always played favorites with front office people and owners as well as players. How about seeing things for what they are?

    • mgdsquiggy17 - Dec 20, 2012 at 11:16 AM

      here I’m just going to keep reposting the same drivel.

      • tashkalucy - Dec 20, 2012 at 11:45 AM

        Thank you for sharing the extent of your baseball knowledge with me.

    • okobojicat - Dec 20, 2012 at 11:43 AM

      “How about giving the young arms that the Cubs have innings at the major league level – isn’t that what rebuilding is all about?”
      You obviously have no idea what you are talking about! The Cubs have two pitchers in their top 13 prospects: one is 20 years old, injury prone and will need some time to develop, the other was acquired in Sept and is coming off Tommy John. Last year they gave about 30 starts to their ‘top AAA’ starters and those pitchers got DESTROYED. There is no pitching depth.
      Secondly, the rebuild the Cubs are doing is shorter than you realize. They will be somewhat competitive in 2014 and probably finish 5 games out of the playoffs, but will be competitive in 2015. These signings of Baker and Feldman
      (and Villanueva and Jackson) are to position them to win ~75 games in 2013. Then in 2014 they can move in on a 3B solution (or maybe Junior Lake will be ready) and they can make a more serious move in the OF, and they can make install a star at 2B (say, a Robinson Cano). They have stars at SS and 1B, they have a very quality player at 2B. They have league average players in RF and LF and Valbuena (as much as it pains me to admit, was league avg offensively at 3B).
      The veteran pitchers that Epstein traded away were either going to be free agents (Dempster) and unlikely to resign with the team and he acquired extremely useful prospects or brought in a very exciting prospect (Maholm for Vizcaino). People who know what they are talking about are asking questions, and they are getting very good answers about what the Epstein/Hoyer team are doing.
      Moreover, most teams need give about 30 starts to 2-3 pitchers, 20 starts to 2-3 pitchers, and 10 starts to about 3-5 players. That’s just how most teams go through the year. Having the Scotts and Jackson and Villanueva will help them and not give innings to Rusin and Raley. And that’s pretty damn valuable.

      • tashkalucy - Dec 20, 2012 at 11:50 AM

        Sorry. Not buying it.

        If you’re trying to buy time by bringing in major league bodies to suck up innings, one does not need to drop $60M to do it.

        Post when he trades Garza or another one of his established starters during the year…..and he will.

    • cur68 - Dec 20, 2012 at 11:50 AM

      Rebuilding is a slow process. If you know of any free agents or trade pieces available who’d be willing to come to the Cubs and fill a lot of spots on the roster then post that list and the list of what Epstein & Hoyer have to trade in return, please.

      While you’re at it post the list of MLB ready Cubs AAA pitchers to fill the holes on the starting rotation, too. Show their AAA numbers, age, and explain how pitching in a hitter’s park is going to help them. I’ll even help you. Here’s a list with an easy ranking system:

      So far, these have been cautious moves on relatively reliable pitchers with some upside who can get the job done and give the offence a chance to make a win of it. No one has too many years signed up because they haven’t committed to another Soriano-type deal. I think with some careful moves and some patience, scouting, and coaching, by the end of the season Epstein and Hoyer might be able to acquire or grow some talent for 2014.

      • tashkalucy - Dec 20, 2012 at 11:57 AM


        I respect your knowledge, but I;ve seen this situation hundreds of times…..

        See above – they just spent $60M on 2 guys.

        Here is something you and cur68 are writing but not comprehending – Theo Epstein has a terrible track record with pitchers…..developing them, trading for them, signing them as free agents. John Farrell was the one that got something out of Epstein’s grabbag of expensive arms he brought in. And it’s funny, because earlier I spoke of Epstein and Shapiro using the national media to get long leashes (if any at all) – the fact is that the Indians haven’t developed one starting pitcher of worth since Farrell left as their farm system coordinator that worked with young pitchers to become Red Sox pitching coach. Nada, None. Zip. Not a one.

      • cur68 - Dec 20, 2012 at 1:46 PM

        John Farrell is not an argument for success. He managed his last team to nowhere and likely ruined at least one pitcher there. Given that he appeared to have success with Epstein and none without Epstein, I think there’s a better argument for Sox success being more to do with Epstein than Farrell.

        As far as Cub’s signings go, those that have been signed have been acquired at market value. There’s no gross overpay here. No long term commitment. These guys won’t be blocking anyone. This is not Alphonso Soriano, redux.

        What the Cubs need is some luck. They have the makings a of a decent, if certainly NOT spectacular, rotation. Now they need to either grow a hitter or acquire one who’s been missed by other teams. However guys like Mike Tout & Jose Bautista do not fall out of the sky on a regular basis. The environment has to be right and the team has to recognize what they have.

        Looks to me like Epstein at al are positioning the club to take advantage of that if it comes along and will likely make moves to see to it that the chances of players like that coming along are improved. That’s what you have to do when your options @ AAA are limited. See Alex Anthopolous’s work over the past few seasons to get an idea of what that looks like.

        In the meantime, if you’re a Cubs fan, well hang in there. Your team is trying to get themselves in a position to win while operating on a budget that makes sense for right now.

      • tashkalucy - Dec 20, 2012 at 2:58 PM

        I’m not talking about John Farrell as a manager, I’m talking about him as a pitching coach and an instructor.

  6. dowhatifeellike - Dec 20, 2012 at 11:11 AM


  7. riverace19 - Dec 20, 2012 at 11:15 AM

    Hendry gutted the farm system; that seriously handicaps what Theo can do. He’s not signing any mega deals, no huge commitments, which is the goal. Yah there aren’t any guys listed here to hang your hat on, but there also isn’t a ton of money flying out the door. Don’t compare these signings to the Red Sox; you sound ignorant. Edwin at 4 for 52 is about the market price. Villanueva could be a value. Until some young arms come from Iowa, this has to be the approach. No Greinke, just guys that you can take low risk gambles on and hopefully 1 or 2 will hit.

  8. donkeydrew - Dec 20, 2012 at 11:24 AM

    tashkalucky- dont know if youre a bosox fan, but you sure come off as one still butthurt over the theo-leaving saga

    • tashkalucy - Dec 20, 2012 at 11:44 AM

      I am not a Red Sox fan at all.

      I am a 55 year MLB fan.

      I’m tired of the media playing favorites and allowing images to be created based on whether or not the GM’s suck up to them.

      Epstein and Shapiro are out and out disasters, yet the national media have succeeded in creating a national persona that these are cutting edge baseball people. Daniels and Rizzo simply lay out what is, go about their business and don’t suck up. They are attacked anytime there is a hiccup in their organization. Friedman hides so no one seems to bring him up much at all.

      I could care less that Epstein left the Red Sox. He inherited Manny Rameriz – a truly great hitter that made everyone in the Red Sox batting order look better then what they were because of how pitchers worked them. The Red Sox started downhill the day they traded Manny, and as Casey said, “you can look it up.” Sure Epstein drafted and developed some fine young players – but look back and see how many there were. Basically the guy threw money at known commodities, either signing them as free agents, of making one-sided salary dump trades. Very few MLB GM’s can do that.

      Guys like Epstein and Shapiro go in circles and have fancy theories and marketing phrases to go on ESPN and do interviews, throwing so many that don’t understand and respect the sport off track. This upsets me, because it’s the Daniels, Rizzo’s, Friedman’s, Dayton Moore’s and others that methodically go about their business and make something out of nothing, yet are never respected as they don’t suck-up and use the media to push their “brand”. Brian Sabean has put together teams that won 2 of the last 3 World Series, and the guy is seldom talked about. This is crazy to me.

      • riverace19 - Dec 20, 2012 at 1:13 PM

        The Nationals had 2 number 1 picks in consecutive years (introducing Strasburg and Harper) and a bunch of other high picks and rule 5 guys.. that of course gives them a leg up on teams that overburdened themselves with too much wasted money and too many trades for the here and now. THere is a lag period involved with baseball: trade your future for today, and if today doesn’t work, 3-4 years down the road the cupboards will be bare. That is what the Cubs are experiencing.. they went “all in” starting in 2003 and through 2009… the team is feeling that affect now.
        Don’t forget Theo built 2 world series champions in Boston before things got bloated… for every Papi and Manny there were also guys like Bill Mueller, Mark Bellhorn, etc. Don’t forget they had important pieces from farm-raised talent: Pedroia, Lester, Youkilis, Papelbon. All you Theo haters back off and reevaluate what he has done 3-4 years from now.

      • Ben Cerow - Dec 20, 2012 at 1:15 PM

        Seams like not a lot of folks are buying what you’re selling, tashkalucy. Might be time to cut bait on this argument.

      • riverace19 - Dec 20, 2012 at 2:20 PM

        “The Red Sox started downhill the day they traded Manny,…”

        If you have been a baseball fan for 55 years then you are old enough to know the phrase “put the carridge before the horse”. Manny was becoming very negative in 2008, his last year with the Sox, completely forgetting about fielding his position (embarassingly so) and his strikeout rate spiked way above average.
        After Mannywood with the Dodgers in 2008 (which is still amazing in it’s own right), he hit 28 more home runs in his major league career. You can look THAT up.
        Don’t tell me the BoSox declined because they got rid of Manny. They recognized a declining slugger who was a liability in the field and parted ways at the perfect time.

      • tashkalucy - Dec 20, 2012 at 3:07 PM


        You just don’t get it.

        Don’t tell me about the decline of Manny Rameriz (or the way he went to the Dodgers and single-handedly led a resurgence). LOOK AT THE RED SOX RECORD SINCE THE GUY LEFT! They’ve just got worse and worse.

        Happens a lot. Am team loses a key guy or he retires, the entire major league team might get some blips here and there, but it slowly settles to a much lower level. Big Papi is not Manny. When Jeter retires the exact same thing is going to happen to the Yankees.

      • riverace19 - Dec 20, 2012 at 4:17 PM

        55 year MLB fan:
        I would think you would be smarter
        2009 Red Sox: 95 wins, lost in first round of playoffs
        2010 Red Sox: 89 wins, third place
        2011 Red Sox: On Sept 1 they were 83-52 which was the best record in baseball… then chicken/beer, and the slide, and the game vs Rays which spawned the second wild card.
        2012: Bobby Valentine disaster

        Their wasted money on Matzusaka, Lackey, Beckett, Crawford, et al. caught up with them. The Red Sox decline has nothing to do with getting rid of Manny Ramirez.
        I’m done wasting my time explaining the obvious to you!

  9. tashkalucy - Dec 20, 2012 at 3:02 PM

    Ben Cerow ,

    The majority of people that post on here are around to make fun of the adults.

    Doesn’t bother me what they think. last year I said the Red Sox and Yankees were headed downhill, and Red Sox were going to fall out first. I got slammed 10 times as badly as I did today. I was right, and will continue to be right. A few posters understand what I’ve written and agree.

  10. giantssb42champs - Dec 20, 2012 at 7:40 PM

    Cubs WS Champs in ’13!!

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