Yesterday the Yankees declined their $11 million option on Kerry Wood for next season and today Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.com reports that he “would be welcomed back to the Cubs organization if general manager Jim Hendry has enough money in the offseason.”
Wood was the Cubs’ first-round pick in 1998 and spent the first decade of his career in Chicago, leaving as a free agent after saving 34 games with a 3.26 ERA in his first full season as a reliever in 2008.
He signed a two-year, $20.5 million deal with the Indians, who used him as a closer when Wood was healthy enough to pitch and then shipped him to the Yankees for salary relief on July 31.
Between the regular season and playoffs Wood posted a 1.06 ERA and 38 strikeouts in 34 innings for the Yankees and at the very least multiple teams figure to pursue him as a late-inning setup man. He may even get another opportunity to close, in which case the Cubs are probably out of luck. On the other hand, Levine notes that Wood is married to a Chicago native and still owns a home there.
Michael Kopech has opted out of the 2020 season. The White Sox starter informed the team of his decision today, and the team issued a press release to that affect a few minutes ago.
The statement from general manager Rick Hahn. said “we recognize that reaching this decision is incredibly difficult for any competitive athlete, and our organization is understanding and supportive. We will work with Michael to assure his development continues throughout 2020, and we look forward to welcoming him back into our clubhouse for the 2021 season.”
Kopech, 24, has only four big league starts under his belt, all coming in late August and early September of 2018, but after a strong spring training he was likely to make Chicago’s rotation at some point in the 2020 season after sitting out all of 2019 following Tommy John surgery. Kopech was among the players sent to Chicago from the Red Sox in the Chris Sale trade back in December 2016. Others involved in the deal included Yoán Moncada, Victor Diaz, and Luis Alexander Basabe.
Now, however, Kopech has opted out.