If you had asked me before free agency began, I’d say one of the least likely players to sign as a free agent would have been Yasiel Puig. Next on that list, probably, would have been Alex Wood. Well … about that.
Color me surprised (yes, I know “surprised” isn’t a color). Wood, 29 today, was famously traded last winter in the Kyle Farmer trade. He struggled with injuries in Cincinnati — not unlike most of his career — and pitched to an ugly 5.80 ERA, 6.38 FIP, 13.7 K-BB% and a ridiculously unsustainable 29.7 HR/FB%. Even throwing in the 89-91 MPH range with his sinker, he’s not that bad. He just gave up 11 home runs in 35 2/3 innings while dealing with the juiced ball and injuries. For context, his career-high in home runs allowed is 16, which came in 171 2/3 innings for the Braves back in 2014.
While with the Dodgers, Wood enjoyed some success. Wood had a 3.46 ERA, 3.50 FIP and a 15.6 K-BB% in his 3-plus seasons with LA before last winter’s trade. That also included the best half-season of his career in 2017. He threw 5 2/3 no-hit innings in Game 4 of the World Series in Houston in the best outing by a Dodger starting pitcher in Minute Maid Park that series.
The promising thing is that his velocity was still in line with his career norms (minus 2017) upon his return from injury last summer.
Also somewhat encouraging is he’s still getting consistent vertical movement on his sinker and changeup.
And his slider is in line with where it has been for the last five years.
Make no mistake, this is a depth signing, just like the Jimmy Nelson one. He could be used in a starting role, a swingman role or some other kind of role — it all depends on his health.
Another reason to be optimistic of this signing is the fact he has been working with Driveline Baseball this winter.
Despite the injuries, the Dodgers are guaranteeing Wood more money than they did to Nelson, so they must like what they’ve seen this winter. Here’s hoping he can regain some of his lost form and be an effective pitcher for the Dodgers this season.