Kerry Wood Rumors

Cubs, Kerry Wood Progressing Toward One-Year Deal

9:38pm: A potential deal between Wood and the Cubs is "far from done," a source tells ESPN's Jerry Crasnick (Twitter link).  Wood is in talks with "multiple teams" about a 2012 contract.

12:29pm: The Cubs and free agent reliever Kerry Wood are making progress on a one-year, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe tweets. The Cubs and the SFX client have not completed a deal, however.

President of baseball operations Theo Epstein recently said he'd be greatly disappointed if the Cubs don't re-sign Wood. The right-hander signed a below-market $1.5MM deal last offseason but is said to want a market value deal this winter. Wood posted a 3.35 ERA with 10.1 K/9, 3.7 BB/9 and a 35.8% ground ball rate in 51 innings for the Cubs in 2011. He's 34, but remains a flamethrower; his average fastball checked in at 94.4 mph last year.

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Cubs Notes: Garza, Wood, LaHair, Marshall

The Cubs agreed to send Carlos Zambrano to the Marlins for Chris Volstad today. The Cubs take on nearly all of Zambrano’s salary, but in doing so they obtain Volstad, a valuable ground ball pitcher who has consistently made his starts since joining the Marlins’ rotation in 2008. He’s arbitration eligible this offseason and under team control through 2014. Before the trade, Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein joined 720 WGN in Chicago for an extended interview. Here are some highlights:

  • Epstein said Matt Garza is a “top of the rotation type” starter. In general, players like Garza can become long-term assets by signing extensions or becoming trade chips, Epstein said. David Kaplan of hears that the Cubs continue asking "for [the] moon" in trade talks about Garza (Twitter link).
  • Rules limiting amateur spending in the new collective bargaining agreement won’t necessarily slow the Cubs down. "It just means we have to be better and more accurate with our drafting than the competition," Epstein said.
  • Epstein said he'd be greatly disappointed if the Cubs don't re-sign Kerry Wood. Wood signed a below-market $1.5MM deal last offseason but is said to want a market value deal this winter.
  • The Cubs expect to start Bryan LaHair at first base. The 29-year-old posted a .331/.405/.664 line with 38 home runs at Triple-A in 2011. He also posted an .885 OPS in 69 plate appearances with the big league club.
  • Epstein addressed Zambrano, saying "change needs to happen and change will happen." Not long after the interview, the Cubs agreed to send the right-hander to Miami.
  • Epstein explained that some disappointing players can recover from poor seasons to produce again. "It's a game played by human beings and the ability to bounce back is very real," Epstein said.
  • The Cubs value Sean Marshall, but felt it made sense to trade him for players who can contribute beyond 2012 (Travis Wood and two prospects), especially since Marshall isn't likely to be tied to draft pick compensation next offseason.
  • The Cubs are "very committed" to Carlos Marmol as their closer.

Central Notes: Twins, Pineiro, Garland, Wood

The NL Central got a little tougher when the Reds acquired Mat Latos on Saturday, but they're still looking to upgrade their pitching further. Here's the latest from baseball's two central divisions…

NL Central Notes: Brewers, Betemit, Wood, Young

Some tidbits from the NL Central….

  • Brewers owner Mark Attanasio, GM Doug Melvin and agent Scott Boras (who represents Prince Fielder) had a meeting late last night that Melvin tells Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel was unplanned and more of a check-in session.  "Scott just said he wanted to give us an update," Melvin said.  "You never really close the door on anything because you don't know what's going to happen. You can't really read anything into it."
  • Haudricourt doesn't think the meeting is a sign that the Brewers could re-sign Fielder, believing that "Boras basically was giving them a chance to jump in and make an offer that he could shop around to other clubs….More likely, [the team] gave an indication of what they might be willing to do if Fielder decided he wanted to seriously entertain the possibility of staying in Milwaukee."
  • Boras also represents Francisco Rodriguez, and Haudricourt reports the Brewers "got the feeling" in speaking to the agent that Rodriguez will reject the club's arbitration offer today.
  • The Pirates are no longer pursuing Wilson Betemit, reports Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (Twitter link).  Biertempfel reported yesterday that the Bucs were close to deals with both Betemit and Nate McLouth, and the club agreed to terms on McLouth's contract today.
  • Kerry Wood wants to return to the Cubs but wants a raise, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.  Wood has said he will either pitch for Chicago next season or retire, and last winter signed a one-year, $1.5MM contract with the Cubs that was well below what other teams offered him. 
  • The Reds have spoken to the un-retired Dmitri Young, reports John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer (Twitter link).  Young, 38, has lost 70 pounds and is looking to make a comeback in either the Major Leagues or Japan.  Young played in Cincinnati from 1998-2001.
  • The Astros are looking at Marlins assistant GM Dan Jennings as a candidate for their open general manager's job, reports Jon Heyman of MLB Network (Twitter link).  Jennings' name has been connected to several GM openings in recent years but the Marlins have turned down at least four clubs' requests for interviews.  Jennings is under contract to Miami for four more years.

National League Free Agent Arbitration Offers

10 National League teams have free agent arbitration offer decisions to make today, and we'll update them in this post in advance of the 11pm central time deadline.  For a fantastic customizable chart with all 57 Type A/B free agents and their teams' decisions in real-time, click here.  

Updated team decisions:

Teams with automatic decisions only:

Cubs Notes: Sveum, Fielder, Wood

Dale Sveum was formally introduced as the Cubs' new manager today.  Here are a few notes from Wrigleyville….

  • Sveum told Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he hasn't talked to Cubs management about pursuing Prince Fielder this winter.  "We haven't gotten that far," said Sveum. "'Influence' is probably not the right word. I've been here 24 hours. I don't know how much influence I have."  Sveum did admit that if the Cubs did decide to target Fielder, "I think me being here can only help the process."
  • As Haudricourt notes in his piece, the close relationship between Sveum and Fielder will ensure some talk between the Cubs and the free agent slugger, since Scott Boras (Fielder's agent) will surely initiate contact if the Cubs don't.
  • Theo Epstein wants Kerry Wood to return to the Cubs next season, reports ESPN Chicago's Bruce Levine.  "He makes us a better organization," Epstein said. "That's because of what he brings to the clubhouse as well as his leadership so I'd like to get him back in the fold and move forward with him." 

Quick Hits: Wood, Red Sox, Angels, Lidge, Astros

Let's round up some links left over from Day Two of the GM meetings in Milwaukee….

  • David Kaplan of CSNChicago reports that Kerry Wood is likely to return to the Cubs rather than retire, and may even sign a multiyear deal.
  • Echoing Larry Lucchino's sentiment from earlier this evening, GM Ben Cherington told reporters, including ESPNBoston's Gordon Edes (Twitter link), that there's "an expectation" the Red Sox will expand their managerial search. Dale Sveum, the only candidate the Sox have interviewed twice, has reportedly been offered the Cubs' position.
  • The Angels promoted Justin Hollander, previously the player development and scouting assistant, to director of baseball operations, according to Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times.
  • Brad Lidge's agent, Rex Gary, declined to comment to Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald about which clubs had contacted him about the right-hander. However, Gary continues to say his client is open to any role: "He's listening. We’ll listen to whatever clubs want to outline. He certainly can close, but he's open to any other circumstances that presents an opportunity for him to succeed."
  • The Angels are among the clubs who seem lukewarm about the idea of the Astros' move to the AL West, writes DiGiovanna.

Quick Hits: Phillips, Kuroda, Ortiz, Wood, Counsell

It's been a busy first day of the GM meetings, but we don't want to let anything fall through the cracks. Here's a collection of assorted links from throughout the day:

Relievers Notes: Wood, Madson, Papelbon

Jonathan Papelbon became the first major free agent to change teams yesterday, agreeing to a four-year contract worth $50MM with the Phillies. Reactions to the contract were generally mixed, though almost everyone agreed that the size of the deal was staggering. Let's round up the latest from the relief pitcher market…

  • Paul Sullivan of The Chicago Tribune reports that Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein has had preliminary talks with Kerry Wood, who is expected to return next season. The 34-year-old righty pitched to a 3.35 ERA in 51 IP after returning to Chicago's north side on a below-market one-year, $1.5MM contract last winter.
  • Despite reports of a four-year, $44MM offer, MASN's Jen Royle hears from a source that the Phillies only offered Ryan Madson a three-year contract. They were unwilling to give him the extra year he wanted (Twitter link).
  • The Red Sox, meanwhile, were not willing to give Papelbon a guaranteed fourth year according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter).
  •'s Peter Gammons reports (on Twitter) that the Red Sox offered Papelbon to the Braves in exchange for Javier Vazquez two offseasons ago. Atlanta rejected the offer, then traded Vazquez to the Yankees shortly thereafter.
  • Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports wrote about how the rest of the closers' market is shaping up and the impact of Papelbon's contract. Here is our look at the trade and free agent markets for right-handed relievers.

Cubs Or Retirement For Kerry Wood

Kerry Wood, out for the rest of 2011 with a torn meniscus in his left knee, told Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago that he will retire if the Cubs aren't interested in bringing him back in 2012. Wood, who intends to undergo surgery next week before beginning a six-week long recovery process, turned down more lucrative offers to return to Chicago on a one-year, $1.5MM contract last offseason.

The Cubs selected Wood in the first round of the 1995 draft and he has since developed strong ties in Chicago, where his family started the Wood Family Foundation this summer. In 51 innings of work, he posted a 3.35 ERA with 10.1 K/9, 3.7 BB/9 and a 35.8% ground ball rate this year. The two-time All-Star is still just 34, so he figures to have more innings in him if his health holds up.

Since the Cubs have yet to appoint a permanent GM, there's no guarantee that the team would like to have Wood back, but it's hard to imagine that there wouldn't be some mutual interest.

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