That's why President Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer continue working to build some depth.
Villanueva, 29, was finalizing an agreement with the team Wednesday night, according to major league baseball sources, and it was learned his signing would not end the pursuit of the more highly regarded Jackson.
Jackson, also 29, was reported on Tuesday night to have narrowed his choices to the Cubs and the Rangers. A source close to the Rangers indicated they are unlikely to offer him even a two-year deal, but the Indians have surfaced as a team that could meet Jackson's request for a four-year contract — if they do not sign Nick Swisher. Jackson turned around his career after a 2010 trade to the White Sox.
He pitched well over one non-impactful season for the White Sox and continued that with the Cardinals and Nationals, essentially matching the performance of Sanchez, who signed a five-year, $80-million deal to return to the Tigers after the Cubs offered five years and $75 million.
Jackson was 26-22 with a 3.80 ERA and 1.31 WHIP in 74 regular-season starts since being traded to the White Sox at the deadline in 2010. Sanchez was 22-28 with a 3.79 ERA and 1.28 WHIP in 75 starts over the same time period. He's only six months younger than Jackson.
Villanueva has been a swing man throughout his career. He set a high in innings and starts last year, when a poor September finish spoiled a season in which he was 7-4 with a 3.10 ERA at the end of August. He finished 7-7 with a 4.16 ERA for the Blue Jays.