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Indians close to deal with closer Wood

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1Indians close to deal with closer Wood Empty Indians close to deal with closer Wood on Tue 09 Dec 2008, 10:55 pm

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LAS VEGAS -- The Indians just might satisfy their need for a closer at the Winter Meetings.
Talks with free-agent right-hander Kerry Wood have gained momentum this week, MLB.com has learned, and the two sides are close to coming to agreement on a two-year contract with an option for a third year.
Indians close to deal with closer Wood ZWS9iAl2
The financial terms being discussed were not immediately known. But multiple sources confirmed the talks are substantive and a deal might be consummated soon. Wood, of course, would have to pass a physical before the deal is officially done, so the logistics call for this to take at least a few days.
Wood's agent, Pat Rooney, does not appear to be addressing media inquiries about this report.
If the Indians sign Wood, they would move youngster Jensen Lewis, who saved 13 games down the stretch in 2008, back to a setup role.
The Indians met with Rooney at the Bellagio on Monday and stepped up their efforts to land Wood, who went 5-4 with a 3.26 ERA and 34 saves in 65 appearances for the Cubs last season. Wood struck out 84 batters and walked 18 in 66 1/3 innings.
Wood burst onto the big league scene as a 20-year-old phenom in 1998, striking out 20 Astros batters in just his fifth Major League start. He went on to strike out more than 200 batters in each of four seasons from 1998-2003.
But a long list of arm injuries, including Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery in 1999 and right shoulder surgery in 2005, has plagued Wood's career. The former starter converted to full-time relief work in 2007 and sparked the Cubs down the stretch that season. He signed a one-year, $4.2 million deal with the Cubs for '08 and won the closer's job. A blister on his right index finger landed him on the 15-day disabled list, but, aside from that, he stayed healthy and was named to the National League All-Star team.
Wood was seeking a three-year contract with the Cubs, though it was believed he might accept an arbitration offer from the team. When the Cubs, who plan to give their closer's job to Carlos Marmol, acquired Kevin Gregg from the Marlins last month, they no longer had a need for Wood, so they did not offer him arbitration. That could be a key factor in the Indians' increased interest in Wood in recent days, as the Tribe would not have to surrender a Draft pick to the Cubs to sign him.


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