Cubs glad they didn't lose Kerry Wood

Updated: January 14, 2012, 9:45 PM ET
By Bruce Levine | ESPNChicago.com

Chicago Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts acknowledged on Saturday that the front office could have handled the Kerry Wood signing in a more timely fashion.

The 34-year-old veteran pitcher told the media on Friday that he was 25 minutes away from going for a physical with another team, with which he had agreed to a deal in principle. That's when the Cubs closed in and finished off the contract.

"I'm not sure why the timing ended up the way it did," Ricketts said at the team's annual convention. "We probably could have had that conversation a month ago. My gut would just say that (Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer) were focused on everything else that was going on. We probably could have done it a little sooner."

Ricketts said he did get involved at the end of negotiations for the one-year, $3 million contract Wood signed late Friday afternoon, which also includes a team option for $3 million in 2013.

"Theo's pretty communicative," Ricketts said. "We talk about all the player decisions and Kerry's no exception to that. We definitely talked about it. And we talked about what was the best for the organization and (signing Wood) was it."

According to a major league source, the team that was the most interested in Wood before he re-signed with the Cubs was the Cincinnati Reds.

"He had a lot of offers," Ricketts said. "From our standpoint, we are happy he wants to stay with the Cubs. We are looking forward to having him one more year."

On Jan. 8, Wood told NBC-5 in Chicago that he wasn't sure he'd be back with the team in 2012. According to sources, that's when the Cubs began to inch up their offer.

"In the end, it works out great," Ricketts said. "This is exactly what everybody wanted. Every fan and everybody in the organization, and also Kerry."

When Wood signed his previous deal with the Cubs last offseason, Ricketts sat down with Wood and told him that he'd like the Cubs pitcher to continue to work for the organization when his baseball career was over. Wood then signed a one-year, $1.5 million deal with the Cubs after turning down larger offers from the Chicago White Sox and Boston Red Sox.

Ricketts said he talked to Wood directly again before the 2012 contract finished.

"A little bit," Ricketts said. "Just because we are friendly and he's more than just a regular player. He really means a lot to the organization. But like I always say, this is a baseball decision made by the baseball people. Going into the future, I hope Kerry will always be a part of the Cub organization."

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.

Bruce Levine | email

Chicago baseball beat reporter
Bruce Levine has covered sports in Chicago for over 28 years and hosts "Talkin' Baseball," heard Saturday mornings on ESPN 1000.

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