It's getting closer to the point where Ryan Dempster and Kerry Wood should start receiving outlandish and ridiculous contract offers from teams desperate for a starter and closer. Meanwhile, Jim Hendry's focus remains on Jake Peavy, which Paul Sullivan reports could affect whether or not the two fan favorites return to Chicago next season.
Considering how up-in-the-air the bullpen is, and especially considering how much Kerry Wood means to the team and their fans, I think that Hendry re-signing Wood is a no-brainer. However, Dempster obviously becomes a low-priority so long as Peavy may accept a trade to Chicago.
Now, something that Sully reflects on in his piece is this: The question Dempster must ask himself is: Why should I take a hometown discount when the team is apparently willing to spend more money on Peavy?
Obviously I can't get into the mind of Clownsevelt, but I can tell you how I would feel were I in his position. Dempster appears to like Chicago, and he is apparently willing to take a discount to remain a Cub. While he hasn't expressed a willingness to take a paycut to improve the talent of the team - ala Sutcliffe in '87, who was willing to take a six figure cut in pay if it meant signing Andre Dawson - I can't believe that Dempster would oppose the acquisition of an uber-talented starting pitcher like Peavy, as it improves the team's chances of winning next season, with one exception.
If Peavy comes, it is likely that Dempster goes. That's the issue at hand. But what if Hendry was able to sign Peavy, and re-sign Dempster? If he's able to find a taker for Marquis, it's a wash - Peavy's contract pays only $500k more next season than the contract of the Marquis de Suck.
It's also likely that Hendry should have the money to pay Kerry Wood what he's worth. In fact, Hendry certainly has the money for Dempster, too. I don't think the dollar figures are the issues, I think the years desired are what is holding things up. Dempster certainly wants minimally a 4-year deal - that's a year too many, and Wood probably wants minimally a 3-year-deal, which Hendry might be reluctant to offer.
I realize that the money train isn't unlimited, the Cubs have a budget, and we all want to see them upgrade the offense, but comparably there's no reason they can't do both. It's just a matter of Hendry needing to go bargain hunting for an outfielder if he pulls off a Supra Upgrade of his rotation. Regardless, it remains a cunundrum, but it is one with a potentially very happy outcome. Let's just hope that Hendry doesn't try to grab too much and come away with nothing at all.