By Sam Zuba-
(CBS) The Cubs wanted Anibal Sanchez.
That much was obvious after the team officially announced the signing of right-hander Edwin Jackson to a four-year contract worth $52 million on Wednesday.
Look back to Dec. 13 when reports indicated the Cubs had agreed to a five-year, $75 million contract with Sanchez. Hours after the news broke, the optimism and excitement shared by Cubs fans quickly turned to panic when it became clear the Sanchez rumors were premature.
Ultimately, Sanchez used the Cubs to leverage himself into a bigger payday from Detroit.
Days later, the Cubs – seemingly in panic mode after a 101-loss season and another year of futility – signed Jackson.
When the full story is presented, it becomes increasingly clear that Jackson was the back-up plan all along.
In mid-December, the Cubs had two starting pitchers on their radar: Sanchez and Jackson.
Hoyer and manager Dale Sveum flew to California to initially meet with Jackson on the exact same day and at the exact same time that Epstein and chairman Tom Ricketts flew to Florida to meet with Sanchez.
Two meetings, two pitchers and one contract. Hoyer explained Wednesday the Cubs had no intention of signing both pitchers. There was enough money to sign one, and they wanted Sanchez.
After all, that’s why they sent their A Team to Florida.
As the story goes, Sanchez balked at the Cubs’ offer, and the team was left with Jackson.
Jackson is a serviceable pitcher, but not worth the $52 million the team forked over for him. The move appears to be a knee-jerk reaction, done solely to quiet a fan base that is growing tired of seeing a Triple-A roster in Chicago.
Over 10 seasons, the 29-year-old Jackson, who has played for seven teams, is 70-71 with a 4.40 ERA. He’s a legitimate starter, but an expensive option for what he offers.
This is the first major signing of Epstein and Hoyer’s time in Chicago, and it appears to be awful Jim Hendry-like.
Sam is the Sports Content Producer for CBSChicago.com and 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @SamZuba.