First baseman/outfielder Nick Swisher isn’t the only significant free agent that the Cleveland Indians are pursuing.
The Indians also are making a run at right-hander Edwin Jackson, but probably cannot sign both him and Swisher, according to major-league sources.
The Cubs also are strongly in the mix for Jackson, who is expected to command a deal of at least four years, sources say.
Swisher, too, is likely to sign for at least four years. The Indians showed earlier this offseason that they are willing to go to that length with a free agent, offering outfielder Shane Victorino a four-year, $44 million deal.
Jackson, 29, would add durability and consistency to the Indians’ rotation — and perhaps give the team the flexibility to trade another of its starters, most likely right-hander Justin Masterson.
The Indians recently acquired right-hander Trevor Bauer from the Arizona Diamondbacks. Lefty David Huff and righties Ubaldo Jimenez, Zach McAllister and Corey Kluber are the other potential members of the Cleveland rotation.
Most in the industry do not view Jackson as a top-of-the-rotation starter, but he has averaged 199 innings over the past five seasons and produced an ERA-plus slightly above league-average (ERA-plus is ERA adjusted to a pitcher’s ballpark and league).
The Cubs already have remade their rotation by signing free-agent righties Scott Baker and Scott Feldman, and on Wednesday they were close to an agreement with righty Carlos Villanueva, who can start or relieve.
Jackson, though, offers the same kind of appeal as right-hander Anibal Sanchez, who spurned the Cubs to sign a five-year, $80 million free-agent contract with the Detroit Tigers.
The Cubs viewed Sanchez as a pitcher who could help them short-term and still be effective in the latter part of his contract, when the team should be closer to contenition.
Jackson, who is about six months older than Sanchez, is less accomplished but fits the same profile.
Swisher, 32, likely would play right field for the Indians, who earlier this offseason signed free agent Mark Reynolds to be their new first baseman.
The Texas Rangers and Seattle Mariners are among the other clubs that have shown interest in Swisher, and those are not the only teams in the mix, sources say.