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.