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Cubs offered Kerry Wood a raise

1/10/2012 - MLB Kerry Wood Chicago Cubs + more

Chicago Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said Tuesday that the team has offered Kerry Wood a "substantial raise" in hopes of bringing the veteran relief pitcher back.

"We continue to want Kerry back in Chicago," Hoyer said. "We've offered him a substantial raise and we certainly hope it gets done.

"(President of baseball operations Theo Epstein) and I and the rest of the people we brought in, obviously we come in with somewhat a fresh set of eyes, that doesn't diminish what people have done long before (we arrived) here."

Wood, the Cubs' No. 1 pick in the 1995 June draft, earned rookie of the year honors in 1998 and spent the first 11 years of his career in the organization. He punctuated his rookie season with 20 strikeouts against the Houston Astros on May 6.

"We both understand the history of the organization and which players mean a lot to the fan base, and Kerry is one of them," Hoyer said. "So that is something we're aware of, and fresh eyes are one thing, but that doesn't' mean you ignore the rich past the Cubs have."

Wood, a free agent, told NBC-5 Chicago on Sunday night that he'll make a decision on where he will pitch next season by Friday, which, is the day that the Cubs' 26th annual Cubs Convention begins. He also said his confidence that he would re-sign with the Cubs was waning, but that was before Hoyer addressed the situation.

A source told ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick that the Philadelphia Phillies were one of the teams interested in Wood. The Cincinnati Reds, Boston Red Sox and Detroit Tigers also expressed interest, according to sources.

Wood signed a $1.5 million deal with the Cubs last season, leaving a two-year, $10 million contract offer from the Chicago White Sox and a one-year, $5 million offer from the Boston Red Sox on the table.

Wood and then-Cubs GM Jim Hendry agreed to the under-market deal in order to aid the team, which was cutting payroll, and re-establish Wood's relationship with the Cubs.

Before re-signing last season, Wood met with team chairman Tom Ricketts for their first ever face-to-face meeting, during which Ricketts told Wood that after his career ends he'll have a job with the Cubs for as long as he wants. According to MLB sources, Ricketts didn't go into detail as to what the pitcher would be doing; however, Wood left the meeting feeling that he'd be an ambassador for the team in some capacity when he retired.

Wood signed a two-year, $20 million contract with the Cleveland Indians before the 2009 season. Wood was traded on July 31, 2010 to the New York Yankees before becoming a free agent in 2011.

Wood was 3-5 with a 3.35 ERA in 55 games for the Cubs last season. He suffered a torn meniscus in his left knee in mid-September and had successful arthroscopic surgery on Sept. 30.

Bruce Levine covers baseball for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.