It appears that Cubs General Manager Jim Hendry still had one more trick up his sleeve when it came to the free agent market. While most people figured the Cubs were done spending on free agents after they signed Carlos Pena, as things turn out that is not the case. As multiple reports confirm that the Chicago Cubs and Kerry Wood are closing in on a multi-year deal.
After the 2008 season, Kerry Wood was about to hit free agency, but wanted to give the Cubs one more chance to re-sign him. Reports suggested at the time that Wood was willing to come back to the Chicago Cubs on a one year deal at a reduced rate, but Jim Hendry was not willing to do so. Considering that Wood had blossomed as a closer during the 2008 season, Hendry felt that Wood should test the open market and get the proper deal that he deserved. Wood did eventually get that deal, as the Cleveland Indians signed Wood to a two year deal, worth $20 million.
Wood did not really see the same success as a closer in Cleveland, as he did with the Chicago Cubs. In 2009, Wood had an ERA of 4.25 with a WHIP of 1.38 while saving 20 games. In 2010, in 20 innings to start the season with the Cleveland Indians, Wood had an ERA of 6.30 with a WHIP of 1.60 and 8 saves. But, Wood showed flashes of his old self when he was with the New York Yankees, to whom he was traded to on the trade deadline. In 47 appearances with the New York Yankees, Wood had an ERA of 0.69 with a WHIP of 1.23 and 10 holds.
It remains to be seen how much the deal is worth, but it is expected to be a two or three year deal. My guess is that Wood probably did take a discount to come back to the Chicago Cubs, it is believed that he was looking for a base salary of $6MM. I would imagine that the imminent deal with the Chicago Cubs is probably backloaded or deferred.
Wood, 33, is exactly what the Chicago Cubs were looking for in their search for a veteran relief pitcher. As he is probably going to serve as the Cubs eighth inning set-up man to Carlos Marmol. Wood is also a leader in the clubhouse, something the Cubs have consequently been lacking since they let Wood walk after the 2008 season. With the addition of Wood, the Cubs will probably now move Andrew Cashner into the starting rotation. That may create the opportunity for the Cubs to trade Tom Gorzelanny, as with the addition of Kerry Wood, it looks even more unlikely that he will be back with the Cubs.
I, probably like most Cubs fans right now, am glad that Kerry Wood is coming back to the Chicago Cubs. Because, in essence Wood is the key part to solidifying the Cubs bullpen, as he will provide that stable bridge to the closer Carlos Marmol. One thing that may go overlooked, is that Wood could also be a mentor to some of the young pitchers that the Cubs will probably put on their staff over the course of the 2011 season.
The deal is expected to be completed at some point this week, David Kaplan was the first to report about Wood and the Cubs being close to a deal.