Reporting Brian Hanley
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(WSCR) -- This column is going to be as short as the Cubs’ contract talks with Kerry Wood need to be.
Five words should do it: Take it or leave it.
This is not to say a Cubs’ cold shoulder to Kerry should necessarily be the prelude to his Woody’s Winter Warm-up charity function Friday night at the Navy Pier Harry Caray’s.
Yet, if what CSNPhilly.com columnist Jim Salisbury reported is true — that Wood wants a one-year deal in the vicinity of $4 million — then the Cubs should say good-bye and thanks to the former Kid K.
No way should the Cubs pony up that kind of cash to Wood when 2012 is going to be the first of a few likely losing and rebuilding years.
The Cubs should offer Wood something in the neighborhood of $1.75 million. That would be a fair bump from the $1 million sweetheart deal Wood gave the Cubs last season. Remember Wood said at the end of last season he would retire if he didn’t re-sign with the Cubs. If he has had a change of heart and can get anywhere close to $4 million from Philadelphia, Detroit, or Cincinnati, teams reportedly interested, good for him.
As much as Cubs fans would love to see Wood sign a Cubs contract in time to be part of the team’s annual convention kick off Friday, the guess here is that won’t happen.
The team, however, should tell Wood that is its deadline.
Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein has said signing Wood was a “priority.” However, as much as Kerry gave Cubs his hometown discount last season, his bank account didn’t suffer when the Cubs paid him $12 million in 2006 for the four games he started — or the $8 million in 2004 for another injury-shortened season.
Having Wood, and his leadership, around the Cubs until he hangs up his cleats for the last time is the ending all should want.
But Wood should realize Cubs fans are done with the losing ways of sentiment trumping baseball smarts. The Cubs have many needs, and a $4 million set-up guy isn’t one of them.