CHICAGO – Pitcher Edwin Jackson couldn't have scripted a better start to the new year.
Jackson's four-year, $52 million deal with the Cubs was officially announced today. And Saturday, the 29-year-old and his fiancé, Erika Zanders, will get married. The financial security and returning to Chicago, where he spent two years (2010 and 2011) with the White Sox, both appealed to Jackson, who is now with his eighth team in 11 big league seasons.
"We had a chance to speak a few weeks ago before any decisions were made," Jackson said. "It was definitely reassuring that you have a chance to directly talk to members of the organization and get a hands-on feel for what they think and their mindset on having you part of the organization."
General manager Jed Hoyer said Jackson's talent, age and being a quality teammate is what most attracted the Cubs. Hoyer wasn't concerned about Jackson bouncing around major league teams, citing his too-early call-up to the majors when he was only 19 and teams' inability the last couple of years to sign the right-hander to an extension, which forced teams to trade him.
Asked why he's played for so many teams during his big league career, Jackson said with a smile, "I think everyone likes me."
Jackson joins a rotation that includes former Rays teammate Matt Garza, Jeff Samardzija and some combination of Scott Feldman, Scott Baker and Travis Wood. Hoyer and the Cubs expect Jackson to be part of the core they build around, and Jackson expects to pitch like a No. 1 starter every time he takes the mound. Jackson isn't concerned that the Cubs are rebuilding and won't compete for the playoffs immediately.
"I've been on a lot of teams that, on paper, nobody expected you to do anything and you end up going to the World Series or making the playoffs," Jackson said. "It's definitely one of those teams that's a few pieces away from being where you want to be. I feel like the additions we have and the team that we have right now, we can go out and win ballgames and have fun."
After spending the past two years with the Cardinals and Nationals, Jackson said he didn't place a priority on staying in the National League. Since being named an All-Star in 2009 with Detroit, Jackson is 45-41 with a 3.98 ERA in 128 appearances (127 starts). Durability hasn't been a problem for Jackson. He's pitched at least 180 innings each of the last five years and has made at least 31 starts the past six seasons.
"He's had some really incredible seasons during his time in the big leagues, and we think he has the best days ahead of him," Hoyer said. "He fits very well on the team in 2013 and we think fits in even better going forward as a core member of what we're trying to build here in Chicago."
• Meghan Montemurro covers the White Sox and Cubs for Shaw Media. Write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter: @M_Montemurro.