The One That Got Away: Kerry Wood Signs with Cleveland Indians

Michael StevensContributor IDecember 18, 2008

It's a sad day when a player that your team has invested so much time and money in finally gets to the Free Agent market. Even worse is seeing that player holding another team's jersey, complete with their name and number.

The worst is when that player is Kerry Wood.

His critics would be more than happy to point out his injury-prone days as a starter, the numerous trips to the Disabled List, the risks presented with every contract tendered to him. But finally, barring a blister, we had Woody back for a whole season, in a new role that fit him quite well.

And we subsequently let a man with 10 years with the Cubs' organization walk away. 

It might never be certain whether a contract had been offered to Kerry, the reports I've seen certainly don't indicate as such. But the general consensus is that a long-term deal wasn't offered because a multi-year deal wouldn't be workable.

As it goes, I ask, $20.5 million for two years would have been too much, because the Cubs' main concern is a left-handed outfielder that we have yet to see? Trading away Jason Marquis' near-$10M salary for 2009 would have made enough room for the first year, and some creative maneuvering would likely have fit in the second year.

A fifth starter would be there in Sean Marshall or Rich Hill, should he ever make it back to the team, leaving no worry for the loss of Marquis.

That is what makes this leave a bad taste in my mouth, and a horrible feeling in my heart, personally. The Cubs could have kept Wood, a player who has shown unwavering loyalty to the team. But all common sense points to the fact that there was an active decision not to do so, and the reasons given for that choice have yet to be fulfilled.

Whether or not it was the right choice remains to be seen; ultimately, Carlos Marmol's handling of the ninth inning, and the Cubs' ability to reach the postseason (and advance past the Divisional Series) will tell the story. 

Until then, I will have split loyalties when the Cubs meet the Indians in June at Wrigley, should Woody take the mound there once again.