Kerry Wood likes Theo Epstein hire, wants to stay with Cubs

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Despite a regime change that included his friend Jim Hendry being let go as general manager Kerry Wood still wants to stay with the Cubs.

Wood, who passed up bigger offers to sign a one-year, $1.5 million deal with Chicago last offseason, said yesterday on Comcast SportsNet Chicago that he liked the move to hire Theo Epstein and “we plan on getting together and talking a little bit and we just go from there.”

Wood threw 51 innings with a 3.35 ERA and 57/21 K/BB ratio this season, so assuming he’s willing to re-sign for a similarly below-market rate there’s really no reason for Epstein and company not to welcome him back. Wood has made it very clear that he wants to retire a Cub and they can certainly use a cheap and still very effective setup man.

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.