Cliff Lee got paid oodles of money to go back "home" to Philadelphia. Kerry Wood is also going home to the Cubs, but for a heck of a lot less money. After rebuilding his reputation with his late season stint for the New York Yankees that included a minuscule 0.69 ERA in 24 appearances and a return to his over 10 K/9 mantra, it would seem that Wood could have picked up a good paycheck anywhere in the market that has developed this off season for relief pitchers. Three year contracts abound with numbers like $12 million and $15 million being bounced around. But Wood went home for just $1.5 million.
Rumors had been that Wood was asking for closer-type money to re-sign back with the Yankees or another club. Wood has made $10 in each of the last two seasons and has made $68.5 million in his career. But it appears that going back to the Cubs, a team whose fan base love him like no other and a place where Kerry Wood became a legend, is where he truly wanted to be. Why else would he consider so little money when he probably could have made millions more elsewhere.
And why wouldn't he want to go back to Chicago? He is unique to Cubs' history. It was for that team that he struck out 20 batters in a game to tie Roger Clemens' record. It was there that he won the Rookie of the Year Award with 233 strikeouts in 166.2 innings pitched. It was there that he came oh so close to leading the Cubs back to the World Series. It was mostly there that he compiled 1519 career strikeouts in only 1320.1 innings pitched.
Kerry Wood has a .550 career winning percentage and 83 wins. He now has 62 career saves. His stuff has always been electric. His health has always been fragile. But he is a Cub and he's going back where he belongs. Enjoy your home town hero, Chicago.