Left-hander Travis Wood has been a plausible rotation candidate all offseason despite his recent work as a reliever with the Cubs, and MLB Network’s Jon Morosi tweets that Wood is indeed drawing interest as a starter. The veteran has “at least one Major-League contract offer” from a team that wishes to use him in the rotation, per Morosi.
Wood, who’ll soon turn 30, produced good results in the pen last year for Chicago, throwing 61 innings of 2.95 ERA ball — though he did so with just 6.9 K/9 to go with 3.5 BB/9 and benefited from an extremely low .215 BABIP. Despite the sub-3 ERA, those numbers are actually a bit disappointing. Wood had produced a jump in his swinging-strike and strikeout rates upon moving to a relief role in 2015, but essentially reverted to his prior levels (which came as a starter).
Of course, Wood’s history as a starter is a feather in his cap rather than a demerit. He did scuffle in 2014, but ran up exactly two-hundred innings of 3.11 ERA pitching the year prior. All told, he has made 133 big league starts, over which he has allowed 4.19 earned runs per nine.
That being said, there’s also reason to believe that Wood can be a more useful weapon — to a contending team, at least — while working from the pen. He obviously can take on multiple innings if needed, but also has a track record of stifling opposing lefties, making him an excellent match-up option. Over his career, right-handed hitters own a .749 OPS against the southpaw, while same-handed batsmen sit below .600. Those splits were even more severe last season.
That track record at least suggests that Wood can present a depth option, even if he’s signed with intentions of being used in the pen. But it seems there’s at least one team that would be willing to promise him not only a roster spot, but a place in the rotation. Whether that club is also the high bidder, of course, isn’t known.