The Dodgers have agreed to a deal with free agent left-hander Alex Wood, reports Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic (via Twitter). The deal will guarantee the ACES client $4MM on a one-year term, with incentives that can push the total to $10MM, Rosenthal adds (via Twitter). Wood has already passed his physical, Rosenthal further reports. Wood himself has confirmed the agreement on Twitter.
The reunion marks a nice birthday present for Wood, who turned 29 today. The lefty has done his best work in Dodger Blue, combining for a 3.46 ERA and 3.50 FIP over 434.2 innings in three-plus seasons in Los Angeles. Over that time, Wood only managed an average strikeout rate (22.3%), but he proved stingy with walks (6.7%) and induced ground balls on over half the balls in play against him. That mid-rotation output prompted the Reds to acquire him (alongisde Yasiel Puig and Kyle Farmer) last offseason for a pair of well-regarded prospects.
Unfortunately, a back injury limited Wood to seven ineffective starts in Cincinnati. He didn’t make his season debut until July 28, and only once did he exceed six innings in a start. Never an extremely hard thrower, Wood’s 89.98 MPH average sinker velocity last season, per Brooks Baseball, was down over two MPH from his career-best 2017 effort.
2019 struggles notwithstanding, it’s not hard to see the upside for both parties. Wood was an above-average starter as recently as 2018. He has four career seasons in which he was worth at least two wins above replacement, per Fangraphs, and as noted, he remains quite young for a free agent. Injuries have hampered Wood in recent seasons, to be sure, as he’s been on the injured list each of the past four years. There’s little long-term risk here for the team, though, and their $4MM investment is minuscule for a franchise which ended the 2019 season with an estimated $210MM payroll, per Roster Resource.
Wood, meanwhile, gets an opportunity to reestablish his health. Should he reclaim his prior form, he’d likely earn some or all of the available incentives. More importantly, he can reenter the open market at a still-young 30 next offseason in search of the multiyear deal for which he seemed ticketed before his 2019 tribulations.
Wood joins a crowded Dodgers’ rotation mix behind Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler. LA hasn’t been shy about moving pitchers in and out of the rotation under manager Dave Roberts. Wood figures to compete with Kenta Maeda, Julio Urías, Tony Gonsolin, Dustin May, and the newly-signed Jimmy Nelson for rotation innings. Surely, some or all of those pitchers will log some time out of the Dodgers’ oft-maligned bullpen as well.
So continues an offseason trend for the NL West favorites. Nelson, Wood, and reliever Blake Treinen have all been brought in on one-year deals this offseason. All three have shown high ceilings in the past, but struggled through injuries or ineffectiveness (or both) in 2019. They may not be the stars Dodger fans have been coveting, although each brings quite a bit of upside. None, it should be noted, would preclude the Andrew Friedman-led front office from striking on a bigger name if the opportunity were to present itself.