He’s back, Chicago: Cubs close to deal with Kerry Wood

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Here’s an interesting one.

According to David Kaplan of Chicago Now, the Cubs are moving toward the finalization of a deal with free agent reliever Kerry Wood.

Wood spent the first 10 years of his professional career with the Cubbies and was a force in their starting rotation from 2001-2004.  But injuries hit him toward the end of the decade and he was forced to move to the bullpen.

Now 33 years old, the right-hander posted a 1.23 ERA and 0.69 WHIP over 26 innings this year for the Yankees.  He should do a fine job as a setup man for Carlos Marmol on the north side of Chicago in 2011.

It might have the feel of a bad PR move, but Wood has built himself into a reliable eighth-inning reliever and the Cubs have spent in worse ways and on worse players.

He was believed to be seeking a two-year contract worth $12 million.  As long as Jim Hendry and Co. didn’t go to three years, they can feel good about adding to a bullpen that was in need of an upgrade.

UPDATE: Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com is now confirming the report.  This baby is real.

Rakuten Golden Eagles sign Jabari Blash

Jabari Blash
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Former Angels outfielder Jabari Blash has signed a one-year deal with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball, the team announced Friday. Per the Japan Times, the deal is said to be worth around $1.06 million. Blash was released from his contract with the Angels at the end of November.

The 29-year-old outfielder has had a rough go of it in the majors, where he failed to duplicate the promising results he delivered in the minors. While he consistently batted above .250 with 20-30 home runs per season at the Double- and Triple-A level, he petered out in back-to-back gigs with the Padres and Angels and slumped toward a .103/.200/.128 finish across 45 PA for Anaheim in 2018.

The hope, of course, is that the environment in NPB will help him get a better handle on his issues at the plate — in a best case scenario, resulting in a full-scale transformation that could make him more marketable to MLB teams in the future. To that end, Blash expects to be utilized as a cleanup batter in the Eagles’ lineup and will focus on assisting the club as they make a run toward the Japan Series.