Kerry Wood agreed Monday to a $4.2 million, one-year deal to return to the Chicago Cubs. Wood can reportedly earn an additional $3.45 million in performance bonuses due to incentive clauses based on number of games finished. Wood had a $1.75 million salary for 2007, during which the right-hander went 1-1 with a 3.33 ERA in 22 relief appearances. He has a 72-57 career record with 3.67 ERA in part of nine seasons with the Cubs.
The signing of Wood leaves Cubs GM Jim Hendry to decide whether to bring back Mark Prior, who missed the entire 2007 season after April shoulder surgery and whose best-case scenario for returning to the mound is early in the 2008 season. Prior is in his final winter of arbitration eligibility and made $3.575 million last year. Since teams are not allowed to cut the salaries of controlled players by more than 20%, Prior cannot be paid less than $2.86 million by the Cubs, whether he reaches an arbitration hearing or not.
The Cubs have until Dec. 12 to agree to terms with Prior or decide between offering arbitration or cutting him. Speculation in the print media suggests the decision will come down to whether or not Prior will agree to include an option year on a one-year contract to prevent the Cubs from paying him to rehab in 2008 , only to get leveraged against his free agency in 2009.
However, a story on the ESPN web site reports that the Cubs are willing to trade the former All-Star, who has pitched in just 57 games the last four seasons since going 18-6 with a 2.43 ERA in 2003.