Kerry Wood turns down $3.5 million from White Sox to return to Cubs for $1.5 million

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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.

Yankees trade Sonny Gray to the Reds

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The deal was much talked about all weekend and now the deal is done: The Cincinnati Reds gave acquired starter Sonny Gray and lefty Reiver Sanmartin from the Yankees in exchange for second base prospect Shed Long and a 2019 competitive balance pick.

The key to making the deal happen: Gray agreeing to a a three-year, $30.5 million contract extension. The Reds will likewise hold a $12 million club option for 2023. The deal had been struck and a window granted through close of business today to get Gray to agree to the extension and, obviously, he has.

The Reds will get a pitcher coming off of a bad season in which he posted a disappointing 4.90 ERA in 23 starts and seven relief appearances. He was hammered particularly hard in Yankee Stadium but pitched better on the road. Great American Ballpark is not a great pitcher’s park itself but any change of scenery would be nice for Gray, who had become much unwanted and unloved in New York. In Cincinnati he has the assurance of a spot in the rotation and, even better for him, he will be reunited with his college pitching coach, Derek Johnson, who joined new manager David Bell’s Reds staff earlier this offseason. If he bounces back even a little bit, the Reds will have a useful starter at a below market price for four years. If he doesn’t, well, they haven’t exactly gone bankrupt taking the chance.

The Reds will also get Reiver Sanmartin, 22, who started in the Rangers system before being traded to the Yankees. He’s a soft-tosser who figures to be a reliever if he makes the big leagues. He played at four different levels last season, with one game at Double-A and the rest below that, posting a composite 2.80 ERA in 10 starts and 13 overall appearances while striking out 7.8 batters per nine.

The Yankees will get Shed Long, who is ranked as the Reds’ seventh best prospect. The 23-year old second baseman hit .261/.353/.412 at Double-A in 2018 and has hit very close to that overall line for his entire six-year minor league career. He strikes out a bit and may not stick at second base long term, shifting to a corner outfield slot perhaps, but he’s a legitimate prospect.

The Reds get another starter with some upside. The Yankees get rid of a problem and gain a prospect and a draft pick. Sonny Gray gets some job and financial security at a time when it is not at all clear what his future holds. Not a bad baseball trade.

UPDATE: Welp, the Yankees don’t have a prospect anymore. They just traded long to the Mariners for outfielder Josh Stowers. Stowers was a second-round pick in last year’s draft. He’s 21 and batted .260/.380/.410 with five homers and 20 steals over 58 games in Short-Season ball in 2018. He’s ranked by MLB.com as the Mariners’ No. 10 prospect, but now he’s New York bound.