Wood ready to contribute on Cubs

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Wood ready to contribute on Cubs

In dealing away arguably the best relief pitcher in the game in Sean Marshall, the Cubs had to be getting something good in return.

While the two prospects were a definite plus, Travis Wood was the biggest part of the deal coming back to Chicago.

"The organization needs more starting pitching, both at the big-league level and in the minor leagues," Cubs president Theo Epstein said in a conference call Friday after the trade became official. "You've got to start somewhere. We're really happy to acquire Travis Wood.

"Twenty-four-year-old left-handed starters who have already had success in the big leagues don't grow on trees. We had to give up a great relief pitcher in Sean Marshall, somebody we were proud to call a Cub. We think to acquire Wood and the two young guys, it was worth doing."

Wood found success right away in the big leagues in 2010, compiling a 3.51 ERA and 1.08 WHIP in 17 starts. He even put up a near-perfect game in a duel with perennial Cy Young winner Roy Halladay.

He struggled in 2011, however, bouncing between the Reds and their Triple-A affiliate last season. He struggled to the tune of a 4.84 ERA and 1.49 WHIP while giving up 10 hits per nine innings.

"We still think all the ingredients are there to make him an excellent starting pitcher in the big leagues," Epstein said. "You're not be able to get guys like that after their strong rookie years. Sometimes, you have a chance to get them after they take a little bit of their lumps on the learning curve and that was how we see last year.

"It was a good developmental year for him. Hopefully he can come in and learn from what he went through last year and pick up where he left off in 2010."

When the Reds traded for Mat Latos last weekend, Wood was kind of the odd man out in the Cincinnati rotation.

"This trade is a great opportunity for me," the Arkansas native said his southern twang. "The Reds do have a lot of depth in their rotation, whether they'd fit me in there or not. I was kind of back and forth between the rotation and starting in 2011, so hopefully I'll get to Chicago and be able to make a difference."

Besides the opportunity to have an impact in the rotation, Wood will probably benefit just from leaving Cincinnati.

In 15 career games (13 starts) at Great American Ballpark -- a notorious hitter's paradise -- Wood has a 5.30 ERA, 1.49 WHIP and .294 batting average against. In 24 games (22 starts) on the road, those numbers drop to 3.58, 1.18 and .237.

He also boasts a 3.38 ERA, 0.83 WHIP and .133 batting average against in two games at Wrigley Field.

"I think I'm feeling very comfortable," Wood said. "I like Wrigley Field and everything, so we're just going to go out there and take it a day at a time and see what happens."

The former second-round pick will turn 25 in February, but is under team control through 2016, a point that was very important to Epstein and his front office staff.

"I believe this fits what we're trying to do in the bigger picture," Epstein said. "Age is one thing, but years of control is another important factor."

Tyson Ross could be one of the final pieces for Cubs’ offseason puzzle

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AP

Tyson Ross could be one of the final pieces for Cubs’ offseason puzzle

Tyson Ross could be one of the final pieces of the offseason puzzle as the Cubs try to defend their World Series title while still planning for the future.

The Cubs left this week’s winter meetings in Maryland still involved in the Ross talks, sources said, monitoring an intriguing pitcher they had targeted before the 2015 trade deadline.

The San Diego Padres didn’t really buy or sell during that pennant race and made another curious decision last week when they didn’t offer Ross a contract for 2017. MLB Trade Rumors projected Ross would have made $9.6 million during his final year in the arbitration system.

After issues involving his right shoulder wiped out almost his entire season, Ross underwent surgery in October to address thoracic outlet syndrome.

Ross was San Diego’s Opening Day starter during a 15-0 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers, but didn’t pitch again, clouding a future that once had him looking like a trade-deadline chip and one of the best pitchers in the free-agent class after the 2017 season.

That’s when Jake Arrieta will be looking for his megadeal and John Lackey might be in retirement and Jon Lester will be turning 34. That’s why the Cubs are so focused on pitching this winter and trying to balance out an organization tilted toward hitters.

[SHOP CUBS: Get your World Series champions gear right here]

Kyle Hendricks proved he will be a pitcher to build around – and the Cubs believe Mike Montgomery can evolve from a swingman into a fifth starter and maybe something far more valuable – but depth is a real issue.

Ross made 30-plus starts in 2014 and 2015, when he earned an All-Star selection and accounted for almost 400 innings combined. He will turn 30 in April and is seen as a positive force within the clubhouse. He has a 6-foot-6 frame, a second-round-pick pedigree and a Cal-Berkeley education.

Reports have already linked the Texas Rangers and Pittsburgh Pirates to Ross and not completely ruled out a return to San Diego. During an offseason where the free-agent market is essentially devoid of reliable frontline starters, there could be sticker shock, even with a rehabbing pitcher.

Trading for Wade Davis meant the Cubs were out of the bidding for Greg Holland, another All-Star closer who helped turn the Kansas City Royals into World Series champions. Holland spent this year recovering from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, but he will still be in position to capitalize after Mark Melancon, Aroldis Chapman and eventually Kenley Jansen reset the market for closers.

With Ross, the Cubs will have to get a better sense of the medical picture and the price for all that upside.

Beyond a winning culture, the Cubs can sell the pitching infrastructure that helped turn Arrieta into a Cy Young Award winner and transform Hendricks into an ERA leader and keep the rotation remarkably healthy.

“Those really talented pitchers are going to be in demand, even those that are coming off an injury,” Cubs president Theo Epstein said this week at National Harbor. “We’ll stay engaged on some of those guys, but they’ll have to be just the right talent.

“We’ll have to feel good about the medical and the return to play. And the fit on the club would have to be right, too. But the true elite guys have a real market, even if they’re coming off down seasons.”

Cubs' MVP Kris Bryant signs multi-year extension with Adidas

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USA TODAY

Cubs' MVP Kris Bryant signs multi-year extension with Adidas

Kris Bryant just keeps on winning in 2016.

Two months after leading the Cubs to their first World Series title in 108 years, Bryant signed a multi-year extension with Adidas.

"It's a phenomenal time to be partnered with Adidas with all the energy and momentum that the brand has right now," Bryant said via a press release. "Adidas embraced me as part of the family from the start."

Bryant was named National League MVP after hitting .292 with 39 homers and 102 RBIs. He hit .308 with three homers and 8 RBIs in the postseason.

Bryant first signed with Adidas in 2014 after the Cubs made him the No. 2 pick in the 2013 MLB Draft.