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Free-spending Cubs close to deal with Marquis

Right-hander Jason Marquis is likely to become the latest acquisition in the Cubs' offseason spending spree.

Marquis and the Cubs are negotiating a three-year contract, the Associated Press reported. Terms have not been agreed to, but the deal is likely to be in the $20-million range.

Talks were delayed when Cubs general manager Jim Hendry was hospitalized for two days during the winter meetings. Hendry was released from an Orlando hospital Friday and planned to return to Chicago today.

Marquis must pass a physical for the agreement to be finalized.

Marquis was 14-16 last season with a 6.02 ERA for the Cardinals and was left off the postseason roster for the final two rounds. He was 0-4 with a 7.25 ERA in five starts in September. In seven seasons, Marquis, 28, is 56-52 with a 4.55 ERA.

The Cubs have been one of the busiest teams this offseason, signing outfielder Alfonso Soriano, second baseman Mark DeRosa and pitchers Ted Lilly and Wade Miller.

METS: The team prohibited Jose Reyes from playing winter ball, not wanting to take any chances with the health of their star shortstop. The Dominican, 23, had expressed interest in playing in the winter league for the Cibao Gigantes.

RANGERS: Right-hander Vicente Padilla is staying put, agreeing to a $33.75-million, three-year contract that includes a $12-million club option for 2010. Padilla went 15-10 with a 4.50 ERA.

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