Marlins trade Kevin Gregg to Cubs

CHICAGO (AP) - The Chicago Cubs acquired right-handed reliever Kevin Gregg from the Florida Marlins on Thursday, a move than means closer Kerry Wood won't return.

Wood, the 1998 NL Rookie of the Year who saved 34 games this year, had been the longest-tenured player on the Cubs. General manager Jim Hendry said Wood was deserving of a three- or four-year deal and the Cubs are not prepared to offer him one.

In addition to Gregg, who was the Marlins' closer until the final month last season, Chicago also has a talented setup man in Carlos Marmol.

"We're just in a situation - and Kerry fully understands - that length of deal for the kind of salary that he could command right now is not our first priority," Hendry said during a conference call.

He said the Cubs need to finish their rotation - they hope to bring back free agent starter Ryan Dempster - and add offense.

"We felt it was time Kerry goes out and does what is best for him and his family and get a huge multiyear deal, if possible," Hendry said. "This is really the right thing to do. We've had some really honest conversations in the last week. We don't have to get into how much I think of him, but at the same time I don't think we could do for him right now what he deserves and what I think he'll get going elsewhere."

Wood made an immediate impact as a rookie when he struck out 20 Houston Astros in his fifth major league start. He had four double-digit win seasons for the Cubs, but his career has been sidetracked by elbow and shoulder injuries.

When it appeared his career might near an end because of shoulder problems, Wood returned to the bullpen in 2007 and won the closer's job last spring. He finished with a 3.26 ERA and a 5-4 record in 2008.

Gregg was acquired for minor league pitcher Jose Ceda.

Bothered by a sore left knee, Gregg finished 7-8 with a 3.41 ERA and 29 save. His nine blown saves tied for most in the majors.

Hendry said Gregg had knee surgery, will begin throwing in January and will be ready for spring training.

Gregg had a 10.13 ERA for August, but it was under 2.00 for every other month, including seven scoreless innings in September after he lost the closer job. He had 72 appearances and held batters to a .203 average.

The trade was not a surprise because Gregg is eligible for arbitration. He was the Marlins' highest-paid player in 2008 at $2.5 million.

Gregg joined the Marlins before the 2007 season in a trade from the Angels and had 32 saves in 74 relief appearances that year. He has an 18-21 career major league record with 62 saves with a 4.00 ERA in 271 games - all but eight relief.

The right-handed Ceda, who is only 21, was 4-3 with nine saves and a 3.83 ERA last season in minor league stints at Class A Daytona and Double-A Tennessee.

"Jose is a big, strong kid with a real live arm," Marlins GM Larry Beinfest said. "We think he can help us in the back end of our bullpen in the very near future, if not right away."

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)