The Chicago Cubs and right-handed pitcher Kerry Wood have agreed to a one year, $1.5 million deal. Wood returns home to the MLB organization that originally selected him in the first round (fourth overall) of the 1995 June Draft.
The righthander made his big league debut with the Cubs in 1998 and pitched for the club through the 2008 season, compiling a 77-61 record with 34 saves, a 3.65 ERA (494 ER/1,219.1 IP) and 1,407 strikeouts in 276 appearances (178 starts) with Chicago. Wood pitched for the Cleveland Indians (2009-10) and New York Yankees (2010) the last two seasons.
Since pitching exclusively in relief starting with the 2007 season, Wood has posted a 3.52 ERA (75 ER/191.2 IP) and limited opponents to a .219 batting average in 192 appearances. In the last four seasons Wood has a 12-12 record, 62 saves and 11 holds, 10 of which were earned as a set-up man to New York ’s Mariano Rivera during the final two months of the 2010 campaign.
Last season, Wood was acquired by the Yankees at the trade deadline (July 31) and went 2-0 with 10 holds, a 0.69 ERA (2 ER/26.0 IP) and .161 batting average against in 24 relief appearances, helping New York to a post-season appearance and spot in the American League Championship Series. Wood recorded 21-consecutive scoreless outings from August 6-September 26, covering 23.1 innings. He recorded a 2.25 ERA (2 ER/8.0 IP) in seven playoff appearances last season.
Wood made his major league debut April 12, 1998 and, at the age of 20 and five starts into his big league career, etched his name in the major league record books as the first rookie and youngest pitcher to record 20 strikeouts in a game when he one-hit the Houston Astros on May 6 at Wrigley Field. Wood earned the National League Rookie of the Year Award (13-6, 3.40) and helped the Cubs to a 1998 playoff berth, his first of four post-season appearances with the club. Wood is one of only 14 players in franchise history to appear on four playoff teams. But like all Cubs there hasn’t been a ton of winning in those postseasons.
Through the 2006 campaign, Wood made 178 of his first 189 major league outings as a starter before converting to a relief role in 2007. Wood became the Cubs closer in 2008 and earned his second N.L. All-Star selection (also in 2003) en route to a 5-4 record with a 3.26 ERA (24 ER/66.1 IP) and 34 saves, the seventh-highest single-season save total in franchise history.
Wood returns to the Cubs ranked fourth in franchise history with 1,407 strikeouts in 10 seasons. In 2011, Wood will become only the sixth player in franchise history with 11 or more seasons with the franchise, joining Charlie Root (16 seasons), Guy Bush (12), Rick Reuschel (12), Bill Lee (11) and Carlos Zambrano (11 in 2011).
Including his time in the American League, Wood has a career 83-68 record with 62 saves, a 3.65 ERA (536 ER/1,320.1 IP) and 1,519 strikeouts in 381 major league appearances (178 starts).