Wood agreed Friday to a $32.5 million, three-year contract, the
most lucrative deal for a pitcher in club history. It includes a
mutual option for the 2007 that could increase the value to $43
"For me it was pretty simple. This organization gave me the
opportunity when I was 18 years old to play professional baseball.
That's something I'll never forget," Wood said.
"It was pretty easy. We are going to be a good team for a long
time. And that was the whole determining factor for me. ... The
whole reason I play this game is to win, and I think we are going
to do that here for a while."
Once lovable losers, the Cubs came within five outs of making
the World Series last season, and general manager Jim Hendry has
been busy building on that. He signed several veterans, including
Greg Maddux, to bolster an already formidable starting rotation
that also features Mark Prior.
Wood, 26, had agreed last month to a one-year deal worth $9.75
million. He would have been eligible for free agency after this
His new agreement calls for a $3 million signing bonus, payable
at $1 million annually over three years, and salaries of $7 million
this season, $8.5 million in 2005 and $11 million in 2006. Wood
also has a no-trade clause in those three years.
"I think we balanced what was very fair for him with some
positives and bridged the gap of maybe what he could have gotten on
the streets in the offseason with a no-trade for three years,"
Hendry said. "It's a good sight to see when a player of his
stature and future ability goes public with `I'm not going
anywhere, I want to be here.' That meant a lot to us."
Chicago has a $13.5 million option for 2007 with a $3 million
buyout, and the 2007 salary would become guaranteed if Wood pitches
400 or more innings in 2005 and 2006 combined. But Wood also can
reject the option, making himself eligible for free agency after
the 2006 season.
Wood made the NL All-Star team last year, going 14-11 with a
3.20 ERA in 32 starts. He struck out a major league-high 266
batters and held opponents to a .203 average.
He won two games in the division series against Atlanta last
fall and was the losing pitcher in Game 7 of the NL championship
series against Florida.
Wood's promise was evident early after an imposing high school
career in Texas. He was the fourth pick overall in the 1995 amateur
In just his fifth major league start in 1998, Wood struck out 20
Houston batters, tying the major league record for a nine-inning
game. He went on to win the NL Rookie of the Year Award after going
His career took a detour the next spring. He had elbow ligament
replacement surgery in 1999 and missed the entire season.
Wood went 8-7 in 2001, won 12 games in each of the next two
seasons and then reached a a career-high 14 victories a year ago,
when he also walked 100 batters and hit 21 more.
He has a 59-41 career record, averaging 10.6 strikeouts per nine
innings, while allowing hitters a .209 average.
"We expect him to become even better than he's been," Hendry
Wood has worked to strengthen a tender back that flared up last
season and has pitched more than 200 innings in each of the last
"I feel great. There have been a few years here where I've been
able to go out and do what I set each spring for myself to do,
which is make all my starts and get over 210, 212, 215 innings,
somewhere around there," Wood said.
"I know what I'm capable of doing. I need to go out and
solidify that and make it more consistent."
The Cubs could reach a multiyear agreement with first baseman Derrek Lee by the end of the weekend.