With Dexter Fowler in St. Louis and Jason Hammel in Kansas City, Travis Wood remains the lone member of the “should I stay or should I go” club. While it was reported that the clash with Joe Maddon contributed to Hammel’s departure, Wood seems to have been cool with his Leatherman-style usage out of the pen. Either that or he concealed his true feelings well.
Wood’s desire to land a starting spot seems to indicate that he might have been a a least a little unhappy with his role over the last couple seasons, but that could also be a simple matter of economics. Unless you’re talking about Andrew Miller or a big-time closer, even mediocre starters are going to pull significantly more than relievers on the free agent market. Hammel was only able to get a guarantee of $8 million per for two years, but he’s also 34 years old. Wood just turned 30 and could well be seen as a better value.
At the same time, one of those guys has remained in the rotation while the other has bounced around and essentially pitched himself out of a starting role. What’s more, Wood’s efficacy against right-handed hitters was greatly diminished last season. While it’s entirely possible for him to emerge as a passable starter once more, I just don’t see it happening. Thing is, I’m not the one who’s opinion matters, and someone is going to pay Wood to pitch for them.
But who will it be and in what capacity? We’ve been hearing for a bit now that the Padres are interested in bringing the lefty aboard as a starter and we now know that the Cubs have given him an offer to reprise his role from last season. There are two other teams reportedly in the mix as well, though few specifics have been unearthed.
Given the biased nature of this blog’s readership, it’s easy to look at the respective outlooks for the Cubs and Padres and think pitching for the former is a no-brainer. You have to know it’s not just about winning, though. A rotation spot, not to mention the salary that goes along with it, is certainly tempting. So too is the incredible weather in San Diego. Imagine being able to go shirtless, or at least sleeveless, all year long.
There’s a great deal of intrinsic value to be considered here, whether it’s the Cubs, the Padres, or a mystery team. When it comes to financial terms, though, what is Travis Wood worth?
What would you offer Travis Wood?
— Cubs Insider (@realcubsinsider) February 13, 2017
I could see something along the lines of three years and anywhere from $21-30 million from San Diego, maybe with a mutual option for a fourth year at $10-12 million. Wood earned $6.2 million last season and MLB Trade Rumors had projected him at 3/$21M to the Marlins back in November, so this is all pretty well in line. But that’s as a starter, a role Wood would only occupy sporadically in Chicago, if at all.
As far as the Cubs are concerned, Wood is basically the car awarded to winners of the World Series or Super Bowl MVP. I mean, does Tom Brady really need a new Chevy Silverado? Does Ben Zobrist need a Camaro? I don’t care if they are limited edition vehicles, you’re talking about giving a $50,000 ride to a guy pulling in 30 or 40 times that much in base salary. I don’t mean that as a gripe about how much these guys make, more about how such additions are purely a luxury.
That’s Wood for the Cubs, a quasi-LOOGY who can swing into middle relief or spot-start duty and who can occasionally hit for himself to save a pinch-hitter. As such, I can’t imagine them offering him more than maybe $5 million AAV for a couple seasons, probably with some incentives — like a Realtree cutoff shirt with a mutual option for sleeves — based on innings or appearances or what have you. They’ve already got several similar options in Eddie Butler, Alec Mills, and Brett Anderson, but Wood is a known commodity who offers some intriguing possibilities.
So what’s he worth? The question really comes down to whether Wood wants to serve as a daily driver or as kind of a specialty ride that mainly just stays in the garage. And, you know, how much he’ll get paid to do so in either case factors a little.
What would you be willing to pay Travis Wood? As of post time, the two-year, $14 million option was leading the way with 41% of the vote among Cubs Insider’s Twitter followers. The $5 million AAV was a close second with 34%, while the others lagged well behind. If your guess is closest to the actual amount — you can go over, no Price Is Right rules here — you’ll win…well, you won’t actually win anything. Maybe an atta-boy.