Perhaps this all ends Friday night, with everyone holding up a No. 34 jersey and flashbulbs popping inside the Hilton Chicago.
But its the middle of January and Kerry Wood is still a free agent and being linked to several contending teams, including the Philadelphia Phillies. A deadline of sorts appears to be this weekends Cubs Convention.
Weve been really open with the media on this negotiation, general manager Jed Hoyer said during Tuesdays teleconference announcing the Paul Maholm signing. It is probably a little different than most. I dont want to abuse that and be too open about that. But we continue to want Kerry back in Chicago. Weve offered him a substantial raise and we certainly hope it gets done.
Thirteen months ago, Wood attended Ron Santos funeral and felt a pull back toward the Cubs. Wood took a below-market deal -- one year at 1.5 million -- that was negotiated by Jim Hendry, the general manager at the time.
There was also an understanding with chairman Tom Ricketts that Wood would have a role within the organization after his playing career was over. Near the end of last season, Wood said he would probably retire if he couldnt pitch for the Cubs in 2012. The reliever laughed when it was suggested he just gave away all his leverage.
Wood and his family live in Chicago during the offseason. His wife, Sarah, grew up in the suburbs and theyve decided to make this their home. Theyve also launched a charitable foundation that will hold a fundraiser on Friday night at Harry Carays Tavern on Navy Pier.
Several Cubs players are scheduled to attend the event, along with Ricketts and president of baseball operations Theo Epstein. A new administration might have a different idea of what Wood is worth.
We come in with somewhat of a fresh set of eyes, Hoyer said. That doesnt diminish what people have done long before were here. We both understand the history of the organization and we understand which players mean a lot to the fans. Kerry is one of them, so that is something were aware of. Fresh eyes are one thing, but that doesnt mean you sort of ignore the rich past that the Cubs have.
Javy Baez should win a gold glove in tattoos.
The kid with the MLB logo inked on the back of his neck now has an absolutely epic 2016 World Series Champions tattoo on his left deltoid:
That. Is. Awesome.
Javy apparently has had the tattoo for a little while, though it wasn't quite as eye-popping as it is now (or what we could see of it back in January):
That's some good ink work, Javy.
Now just make sure you don't spend too much time in the gym working on those delts. That tattoo would look awfully weird stretched out:
MESA, Ariz. – Whatever frustrations Pedro Strop may have kept bottled up during the playoffs didn't change how he feels about his Cubs teammates or living in Chicago or the energy at Wrigley Field.
"I think if there were any hard feelings we wouldn't be doing this extension," general manager Jed Hoyer said Friday after announcing the deal that could keep Strop in a Cubs uniform through the 2019 season.
The Cubs framed Strop's fade into the postseason background as a matter of bad timing after he tore the meniscus in his left knee in August. Otherwise, manager Joe Maddon wouldn't have felt the need to push Aroldis Chapman so hard during the World Series.
The Cubs backed up their story by avoiding an arbitration hearing with a $5.5 million settlement for 2017 before camp opened in Arizona. The two sides continued negotiating, agreeing to a one-year extension worth $5.85 million and a $6.25 million club option for 2019 with a $500,000 buyout. For that sense of comfort and security, Strop sacrificed the chance to sell himself as a possible closer next winter.
"I just feel happy that I know I'm going to be here," Strop said. "I don't care about the role or whatever.
"I like to win better than roles."
With Wade Davis and Koji Uehara positioned to become free agents after this season, the Cubs wanted to invest in their bullpen and clubhouse, where Strop is among the most popular players and a bilingual presence buzzing around the room.
"We don't want to be in a position of always having to rebuild the bullpen," Hoyer said. "Pedro's been a rock for us down there. His pitching is a big part of why we wanted to bring him back. But it's also who he is.
"He puts every person around him in a better mood every day. This guy's always beaming. He's always in a great mood. But under that huge smile, he's an awesome competitor, and this guy wants the ball in the biggest spots. We want more guys like that."
Since coming over in the franchise-altering Jake Arrieta trade with the Baltimore Orioles in the middle of the 2013 season, Strop has notched 84 holds, put up a 0.98 WHIP and a 2.68 ERA and accounted for 232 appearances. During that time, the right-hander with the nasty slider leads all National League relievers with a .173 batting average against and ranks third in opponents' OPS (.530) and fourth in strikeouts per nine innings (10.82).
Maddon didn't show that same level of trust in Strop during the playoffs, but the force of his talent and personality – the crooked-hat look, chest-pounding celebrations and love for the game – helped change this team's identity and turn the Cubs into World Series champs.
"I felt for Pedro," Hoyer said. "I felt like he rushed as much as he could to get back on the field for the postseason, but he probably wasn't vintage Pedro Strop at any point down the stretch, just by nature of the timing. But when you look at the numbers he's put up over the last three years, he's been one of the best setup guys in the game."