With no reliability in the rotation, could the New York Yankees work out a last-minute deal with free agent left-hander Travis Wood?
The New York Yankees are expected to head to Tampa in just eight days with their current roster, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t make any more moves.
Primed to endure a season amidst a rotation cluttered in question marks, they have an opportunity to bring in a key ingredient to the Chicago Cubs’ first World Series win since 1908.
Travis Wood, despite working almost undividedly out of Chicago’s bullpen throughout the past two seasons, could revert to a starting role with a brand-new club in 2017.
According to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, “multiple teams” are offering the lefty a chance to start, and the Yankees should certainly be interested in attaining his services.
Over the last two seasons, Wood has maintained a 3.51 ERA in 131 games (nine starts) including 165 strikeouts in 161.2 innings of work (9.2 K/9).
The former second-round pick of the 2005 amateur draft spent the first five years of his career as a starter, where he sported a 4.11 ERA across 128 games (124 starts).
While those numbers don’t stand out as “ace-like” (at all), Wood did make an All-Star appearance in 2013 in a season in which his 2.79 first half ERA ranked ninth among National League starters. The southpaw also finished that campaign with 200 innings pitched — a landmark no Yankees starter has hit since CC Sabathia did three years ago.
Notwithstanding the fact that Wood arguably stands out as a No. 4 option in a rotation that contains little-to-no stability, the organization could certainly use another left-hander in the bullpen if offering him a chance to start doesn’t work out.
Tommy Layne has been stellar against left-handed hitters throughout his career (.177 BAA) and would likely rule atop the depth chart of lefty specialists. After the 32-year old, however, there’s nothing trustworthy.
Richard Bleier was a 29-year-old rookie last season and has appeared in 241 minor league games over nine seasons compared to just 23 at the major league level. Chasen Shreve had a stellar first half in 2015 (2.02 ERA in 35.2 IP) but hasn’t been healthy nor efficient since (5.05 ERA in 55.2 IP).
Now, despite suggesting an urgent demand to supplement the bullpen with another arm, general manager Brian Cashman’s biggest pitching addition of the offseason was a flamethrowing closer.
He might have lost his chance to back up his words after Boone Logan joined the defending American League champions and Jerry Blevins returned to the New York Mets, but Wood could be Cashman’s saving grace.
Since ’15, his 161.2 innings pitched ranks fifth among pitchers that have registered 80 percent of their games out of the bullpen — certainly good news for a rotation that averaged just 5.6 innings per start a year ago.
Plus, lefty batters slashed .128/.208/.239 off him in 2016 including just two home runs in 120 plate appearances.
ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reported Friday that Wood could sign sometime this weekend, and it only makes sense for Cashman to take a risk on him.
No, he won’t turn the Yankees into instant contenders, but he’s a guy who may have a shot at being a pleasant surprise in the rotation or as a helpful left-handed long man. If things go in a positive direction, Wood could cover up some of the blatantly obvious shortcomings of the team’s rotation/bullpen.
If it’s a one-year deal, what does Cashman have to lose?