One of the more intriguing Dodgers eligible for salary arbitration this winter is Alex Wood, who in many ways is the forgotten man of the pitching staff.
Wood pitched for the Dodgers in the NLCS in 2016, but that was in relief after coming back in September following arthroscopic surgery on his left elbow that wiped out two months. He started 10 games last season, but the last one came on Memorial Day.
The left-hander, who turns 26 on Jan. 12, has 77 career starts and 499⅓ major league innings under his belt, and with three years, 123 days of major league service time is eligible for salary arbitration for the first time. That means Wood will receive a substantial raise from the $530,000 he made in 2016.
The salary arbitration filing date is Tuesday, Jan. 10, with players and teams exchanging salary figures on Friday, Jan. 13. Under the current front office regime the last two years, the Dodgers have reached agreement on a contract with all of their arbitration-eligible players by the exchange date.
To figure out what Wood might earn in 2017, let’s take a look at a group of starting pitchers with three years of service time and reasonably comparable career numbers. First, the career stats:
Wood comparable pitchers (career)
The range is wide, from just under $2 million to $3.5 million, with the bulk settling in between $2.2-2.8 million.
Here is a look at the same group, comparing their single seasons heading into that first arbitration year:
Wood comparable pitchers (single year)
With Wood limited at just 60⅓ innings in 2016, the comp list narrows. Looking at the pitchers with fewer than 100 innings, Felix Doubront was below replacement level and Michael Pineda was great in limited duty but Wood dwarfs him in career numbers. Jose Fernandez was returning from Tommy John surgery in 2015, and was already an established superstar.
The two closest comps look like Patrick Corbin and Vance Worley. Corbin was better in his launch season, also returning from surgery, but Wood has 100 more career innings and corresponding advantage in bulk numbers. Worley is a near perfect match in career bulk numbers to Wood, within 11 days of service time, 9 innings, 8 games, 4 starts and 3 walks of one another, but Wood has the advantage in ERA, FIP and WAR, plus a better launch year.
MLB Trade Rumors projected a 2017 salary for Wood of $2 million, but given the group above that seems low. Wood holds his own with Corbin and Worley, so I’ll guess that he narrowly beat them at $2.65 million.