Kerry Wood, A Cub Again?

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When you mention the name Kerry Wood, the team that almost simultaneously comes to mind is the Chicago Cubs. Wood made his debut for the Chicago Cubs in 1998, and is probably most remembered for his 20 strikeout performance during that rookie year. However, Wood’s Cubs career can best be described as damaged goods. Over the course of his 10 years with the Chicago Cubs, Wood had shown flashes of dominance, specifically during the 2001-2004 seasons. But, Wood, towards the end of his Cubs career barely saw the field, with the exception of 2008, his last year with the Cubs when he was their Closer. After the 2008 season, the Cubs decided to let Wood hit the open market and receive the contract they felt he deserved. As the Cubs were unwilling to give him the $10MM per season, that the Indians eventually decided to give him.

After two mediocre seasons with the Cleveland Indians, the Indians decided to trade Wood to the New York Yankees at the trading deadline this season. It was in New York, where Kerry Wood revived his career again. In his last 24 games this season with the New York Yankees , Wood had an ERA of 0.69 with a WHIP of 1.23. In all, Wood finished the 2010 season with an ERA of 3.13, with a WHIP of 1.39, while striking out 49 and walking 29.

The New York Yankees declined to pick up his $11MM option for the 2011 season, thus making him eligible for free agency. According to sources, the Chicago Cubs would welcome back Kerry Wood if the payroll permits that they can. After showing that he has the potential to be a very good set-up man, and the fact that he is 33, Wood figures to look for a multi-year deal at about $6MM-$8MM per season. If that is the case, the Chicago Cubs probably will not be able to afford the return of Kerry Wood.

One thing to keep in mind is that right now, the Cubs sole priority is to add a left handed power hitter, presumably Adam Dunn. Meaning the Chicago Cubs are focused on trying to clear enough space on the budget, so that they can afford to give Adam Dunn a 3 year contract worth about $40MM. With that said, it would then be hard to envision the Cubs being able to afford a multi-year contract worth at least $12MM for Kerry Wood. The only way the Chicago Cubs will be able to bring in Kerry Wood, is if Wood is willing to take a pay cut to come back to the Cubs.

However, Wood is exactly what the Chicago Cubs need to add to their bullpen. Wood would give the Cubs an insurance policy to Carlos Marmol if he gets injured, or on the slim chance he is traded this off-season. Wood is also a veteran that can come in and be the leader he once was for the Cubs, and mentor the young arms the Chicago Cubs have in the bullpen. Which is why, if I were Jim Hendry, I would try and persuade Ricketts to give him a little bit more money to put towards getting Kerry Wood.