The Dodgers have been pretty quiet so far this offseason. The Winter Meetings aren’t even here yet, so that’s not terribly surprising.
Yes, they (rightly) retained Clayton Kershaw and were able to keep postseason dynamo David Freese, but aside from a couple very minor trades, not much has been done.
They’ve been rumored to be interested in, somewhat surprisingly, Corey Kluber and Yusei Kikuchi. It’s somewhat surprising because both are starting pitchers and, at last check, the Dodgers have 8-9 viable guys who could make starts for the Dodgers in 2019. But, that doesn’t mean the Dodgers shouldn’t be looking to upgrade. And if they do, they’ll have to move a pitcher or two.
One of those guys who I really think moves regardless of any outside pitching acquisitions is Alex Wood. His move to the bullpen didn’t go too well and his stuff has never rebounded to the way it was in the first half to he 2017 season. Maybe he was never meant to be that guy long-term and because of that, he’s now just an ordinary middle-of-the-rotation starter. That carries a somewhat negative connotation, but mid-rotation starters are pretty valuable — always have been, likely always will be.
So, let’s see if we can find Wood a new home.
What teams need starting pitching? If you said “all of them,” you’re right. But let’s look at the teams that really need starting pitching.
Here were the bottom 10 starting pitching staffs, according to FanGraphs’ WAR:
- White Sox, 3.1
- Orioles, 3.4
- Padres, 4.0
- Rangers, 4.2
- Reds, 4.5
- Marlins, 5.4
- Tigers, 6.7
- Giants, 7.2
- Blue Jays, 7.3
The Rangers and Tigers have already added some starting pitching, but they don’t really have any thoughts of contending in 2019. Same goes for the Giants, Orioles and Marlins. The Padres are interesting, but with Wood being under control for only one more season, they’d likely pass. That leaves the White Sox, Reds and Blue Jays. The Jays are probably out, but the White Sox and (especially) the Reds seem primed to try to actually win this season, unlike previous years. Let’s keep them in mind.
A team that really stands out in terms of needing a starter are the A’s. They’re coming off a 97-win season, but the non-tendered August acquisition Mike Fiers and have a lot of guys coming back from injury (Jharel Cotton, A.J. Puk, Andrew Triggs). They also have a lot of guys who will miss a significant portion — if not all — of the 2019 season (Kendall Graveman, Daniel Gossett, Sean Manaea). They’re definitely in the market for a starter.
I kinda thought a Wood-for-Francisco Cervelli made some sense on the surface. The Dodgers need a catcher and the Pirates could always use another solid starter to add to an already solid rotation, led by Jameson Taillon, Chris Archer and Trevor Williams.
If the Reds are really serious about improving their pitching, Wood could do well there. He’s good at keeping the ball on the ground (48.9 GB% last season), which is important in one of the most hitter-friendly parks in baseball. After Luis Castillo, the rest of the Reds’ projected rotation is lacking — Anthony DeSclafani, Cody Reed and maybe the corpse of Homer Bailey.
The same goes for the White Sox. If they’re interested in contending, adding Wood make sense. Their rotation is young, headed by Reynaldo Lopez. Lucas Giolito exists, but he’s coming off an MLB-worst 5.56 FIP in 2018. Carlos Rodon is coming back from a bum shoulder and should be better next season. The inclusion of Wood could help stabilize a rotation in need of a solid veteran.
If you’re looking at other contending teams, the Brewers have been looking for a starter since the trade deadline last season. It’d be difficult to see the Dodgers trading with the team that took them to seven games for the NL pennant, but it wouldn’t be like trading with the Giants or something.
Cleveland is also on the table ... kinda. They’re looking to trade one or both of Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer. If they do trade one of them (to the Dodgers, maybe?), maybe Wood could head there to fill a rotation void. It’s weird, I know.
These are just some of the possibilities that make sense. Having said all this, he’s absolutely getting traded to a team not mentioned above or — even better — will somehow stay with the Dodgers.
Wood, 28 next month, has been good as a Dodger, but it probably makes sense for both he and the Dodgers if he moves to a team where he could have an unquestioned role. Factor in that he’s a year from free agency and the likelihood of the Dodgers signing him long-term isn’t high and trading him seems like the best option.