This has been an excellent offseason for free agent relievers, as guys like Joaquin Benoit, Jesse Crain, and Matt Guerrier have ended up with three-year contracts. Kerry Wood was expected to end up with a pretty good deal, too, but word's out now that he's actually turned down some money to return to the Chicago Cubs.
According to Chris De Luca, Wood has signed a one-year contract with the Cubs worth $1.5 million. In so doing, he turned down more money from the White Sox, and also turned down presumably superior offers from the Yankees and Red Sox. Wood, it seems, was eager to return to the place where it all started, as he debuted with the Cubs in 1998 and remained there through the 2008 season.
Wood, of course, is a reliever now, and no longer the electrifying starter he was earlier in his career. But he's been effective out of the bullpen, posting a 3.52 ERA over the past four years with 220 strikeouts over 191.2 innings. He spent 2010 with the Indians and Yankees, struggling with command but still racking up the whiffs, and the Cubs will look for him to help solidify the back of a bullpen that already includes Carlos Marmol and Sean Marshall.
Wood's still got a powerful arm, and the fans will be thrilled about his homecoming. Read more over at Bleed Cubbie Blue.