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Alex Wood 2017 salary arbitration preview

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LHP is eligible for salary arbitration for the first time

Los Angeles Dodgers v Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images

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)

Pitcher Years Service IP GS W-L ERA+ FIP rWAR fWAR Salary
Pitcher Years Service IP GS W-L ERA+ FIP rWAR fWAR Salary
Alex Wood 2013-2016 3.123 499.3 77 27-30 111 3.32 7.5 8.0 TBD
Tom Koehler 2012-2015 3.016 535.0 87 26-35 92 4.24 3.8 2.5 $3,500,000
Nathan Eovaldi 2011-2014 3.013 460.0 79 15-35 94 3.69 4.3 5.6 $3,300,000
Miguel Gonzalez 2012-2014 3.095 435.7 69 30-21 118 4.59 7.3 3.2 $3,275,000
Jose Fernandez 2013-2015 3.000 289.0 47 22-9 160 2.40 9.0 7.7 $2,800,000
Joe Kelly 2012-2015 3.101 461.7 73 31-22 103 4.13 4.6 3.1 $2,600,000
Vance Worley 2010-2015 3.112 508.7 81 31-28 102 3.76 5.3 6.3 $2,600,000
Patrick Corbin 2012-2015 3.105 400.3 65 26-21 106 3.57 4.7 6.1 $2,525,000
Jordan Lyles 2011-2014 3.060 503.7 87 21-33 80 4.46 -1.9 3.1 $2,475,000
Danny Duffy 2011-2014 3.085 306.7 56 17-22 110 4.12 4.6 3.3 $2,425,000
Carlos Carrasco 2009-2014 3.147 372.3 54 19-26 92 3.75 3.3 4.4 $2,337,500
Hector Santiago 2011-2014 3.016 352.0 51 14-19 114 4.41 5.1 2.1 $2,290,000
Drew Hutchison 2012-2015 3.128 393.7 71 29-21 81 4.16 0.0 4.2 $2,200,000
Michael Pineda 2011-2014 3.099 247.3 41 14-15 120 3.20 5.0 5.4 $2,100,000
Hector Noesi 2011-2014 3.006 362.7 48 12-27 75 4.88 -0.2 0.0 $1,950,000
Felix Doubront 2010-2014 3.120 438.3 73 28-23 87 4.30 0.2 3.4 $1,925,000

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)

Pitcher Years Service IP GS W-L ERA+ FIP rWAR fWAR Salary
Pitcher Years Service IP GS W-L ERA+ FIP rWAR fWAR Salary
Alex Wood 2016 3.123 60.3 10 1-4 105 3.18 0.3 1.3 TBD
Tom Koehler 2015 3.016 187.3 31 11-14 93 4.53 0.6 0.6 $3,500,000
Nathan Eovaldi 2014 3.013 199.7 33 6-14 85 3.37 0.2 2.9 $3,300,000
Miguel Gonzalez 2014 3.095 159.0 26 10-9 122 4.89 2.1 0.5 $3,275,000
Jose Fernandez 2015 3.000 64.7 11 6-1 131 2.24 1.5 2.1 $2,800,000
Joe Kelly 2015 3.101 134.3 25 10-6 89 4.18 1.0 1.2 $2,600,000
Vance Worley 2015 3.112 71.7 8 4-6 97 3.82 0.0 0.5 $2,600,000
Patrick Corbin 2015 3.105 85.0 16 6-5 115 3.35 1.3 1.5 $2,525,000
Jordan Lyles 2014 3.060 126.7 22 7-4 98 4.22 1.1 1.2 $2,475,000
Danny Duffy 2014 3.085 149.3 25 9-12 156 3.83 3.6 1.9 $2,425,000
Carlos Carrasco 2014 3.147 134.0 14 8-7 153 2.44 3.7 3.2 $2,337,500
Hector Santiago 2014 3.016 127.3 24 6-9 96 4.29 0.5 0.7 $2,290,000
Drew Hutchison 2015 3.128 150.3 28 13-5 74 4.42 -1.7 1.5 $2,200,000
Michael Pineda 2014 3.099 76.3 13 5-5 204 2.71 2.7 2.2 $2,100,000
Hector Noesi 2014 3.006 172.3 27 8-12 79 4.83 -0.5 0.3 $1,950,000
Felix Doubront 2014 3.120 79.7 14 4-5 72 5.13 -0.8 -0.3 $1,925,000

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.

2017 guess

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.