Kerry Wood has turned down a one-year, $3.5 million offer from the White Sox in order to return to the Cubs for $1.5 million, according to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times.
Wood, who was drafted fourth overall by the Cubs in 1995 and spent the first decade of his career calling Wrigley Field home, will likely be the primary setup man in front of closer Carlos Marmol.
Wittenmyer writes that Wood’s decision to turn down the White Sox’s far more lucrative offer “surprised even the Cubs” and he may also have turned down multi-year offers from the Yankees and Red Sox.
Wood missed all of April with a back injury and struggled for the Indians once he returned from the disabled list, but posted a 0.69 ERA and 31 strikeouts in 26 innings following a midseason trade to the Yankees. Originally a starter–and owner of one of the best starts in baseball history–Wood has a 3.45 ERA, .213 opponents’ batting average, and 237/93 K/BB ratio in 204 career relief innings.
Given some of the two- and three-year contracts being handed out to other middle relievers, $1.5 million is an amazingly below-market deal. He probably won’t miss the extra money, as Wood has already earned over $70 million during his dozen-year career, but it’s always interesting to see someone willing to take less to play where he wants, particularly when the decision involves choosing between sides of Chicago.
Manny Ramirez underwent hernia surgery shortly after the season ended, but yesterday agent Scott Boras told reporters that Ramirez “didn’t know about” the injury. Seriously.
According to Boras:
I’m not sure Manny knew about it. In fact, I know he didn’t know about it because we were all surprised. I don’t think Manny felt anything affected him during the season. It’s just the fact that when you find out you’ve got a situation where you’ve got to have surgery for a hernia-like situation, you obviously know it’s impactful. We found out that Manny had some medical maladies that had to be surgically repaired in the offseason. It had a pretty big impact on his performance.
Boras saying “it had a pretty big impact on his performance” despite also saying that Ramirez “didn’t know about it” is basically a perfect portrayal of the public’s perception of each person.
Boras is trying to spin it so that Ramirez’s complete lack of production following a trade to the White Sox can be blamed on the injury, no doubt to help stir up some free agent interest. At the same time Ramirez, who has long had a reputation for being oblivious to just about everything but hitting a baseball, played most of the season with a groin injury that eventually required surgery and “didn’t know about it.”
For whatever it’s worth, Boras also said that Ramirez is now fully recovered from the surgery and has a “good” market that involves “multiple teams” being interested. Whether or not Ramirez is aware of any of that remains unclear.
Paul Konerko re-signing with the White Sox seemed like a near-lock as recently as yesterday, but general manager Ken Williams told reporters this afternoon that contract talks have hit a major snag and may force the team to look elsewhere for a first baseman.
Williams revealed plans to speak to agents for several other first base options, saying “at this point we have no choice” and “you can’t stop the train.”
Previous reports suggested that Konerko was asking for $15 million per season, while the White Sox were hoping to sign him for closer to the $12 million he earned in 2010 and use the money saved on bullpen help.
Arizona and Baltimore have expressed interest in Konerko, but the assumption has been that he’d give Chicago the right to match any offer he receives.