NEW YORK (AP) — Kerry Wood is returning to the Chicago Cubs, agreeing to a one-year, $1.5 million contract, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press.

The New York Yankees were thought to be among the front-runners for Wood.

The person spoke Thursday on condition of anonymity because the agreement had not yet been announced.

Wood pitched for the Cubs from 1998-08, winning NL Rookie of the Year honors when he was a hard-throwing starter.

He signed with the Indians as a free agent in December 2008 and was traded from Cleveland to the Yankees last July. Wood became Mariano Rivera’s primary setup man and was 2-0 with a 0.69 ERA in 24 appearances with New York.

Wood’s career has been slowed by numerous injuries. He is expected to be a late-inning reliever and a bridge to closer Carlos Marmol.

In 12 seasons, Wood is 83-68 with a 3.65 ERA and 62 saves — 34 of those with the Cubs when he was their closer in 2008.

Wood is one of the most popular players in Cubs’ history.

In his fifth major league start in 1998, he struck out 20 Houston Astros in a brilliant one-hitter that made him an immediate star. He missed the entire 1999 season recovering from elbow ligament replacement surgery, but in 2003 helped the Cubs reach Game 7 of the NLCS, where he was the losing pitcher despite hitting a home run against the Florida Marlins.

After winning the closer’s role in 2008, he saved 34 of 40 games, his fastball blazing in the mid 90s mph again, reinventing his career as a reliever.

That career appeared to be nearly over in 2007 as he battled shoulder problems for a third straight season. But he made a stirring comeback in August that year after the pain in his shoulder went away and pitched well in relief.


AP Sports Writer Ronald Blum contributed to this report.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.