Left-hander Alex Wood was one of the Reds’ key acquisitions during an eventful offseason for the club, but he still hasn’t made his Cincinnati debut two months into the campaign. Unfortunately, a return isn’t imminent for Wood, who has been dealing with back issues since late February. There remains no timetable for a comeback, Mark Sheldon of MLB.com reports, though manager David Bell said Saturday the Reds are hopeful Wood will begin a rehab assignment sometime soon.
The Reds’ rotation finished 25th in the majors in ERA and 26th in fWAR last year, spurring executives Dick Williams and Nick Krall to take action over the winter. Along with adding Wood, who joined the Reds in a December blockbuster with the Dodgers that also delivered outfielders Yasiel Puig and the since-released Matt Kemp to Cincy, the club picked up ex-Yankee Sonny Gray and former National Tanner Roark in trades with those franchises. The Gray and Roark acquisitions have worked out thus far, while Luis Castillo has blossomed into a front-line starter and fellow holdover Tyler Mahle has held his own. Consequently, the Reds boast a much-improved starting staff that sits fourth in the game in ERA and fifth in fWAR.
While it’s obvious the Reds’ rotation has made enormous strides this year, it’s fair to believe the unit would be even more formidable with Wood. Righty Anthony DeSclafani been a merely replacement-level option so far in 2019, whereas the 28-year-old Wood has been a quality performer since his career began with the Braves in 2011. He concluded his three-plus-year Dodgers tenure in 2018 with 151 2/3 innings of 3.68 ERA/3.53 FIP ball, 8.01 K/9 against 2.37 BB/9, and a 48.9 percent groundball rate.
Given Wood’s showing last year and his general track record, a healthy version could have helped the Reds push for a playoff spot this season (they’re 23-28, five games back of a wild-card spot and 7 1/2 out in the uber-competitive National League Central race). Wood also could have vied for a sizable payday going into the upcoming winter, given that he’s in his last season of team control. However, if Wood doesn’t come back strong sometime over the next couple months, he may be in for a disappointing trip to the open market.