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The Cubs should re-sign Travis Wood

... to a minor-league contract.

Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Before you get all bent out of shape over what I’m going to write in this article, here’s the news item it’s based on:

I think the Cubs should offer Travis Wood a minor-league contract with a non-roster invitation to spring training.

I will acknowledge that Wood had a horrifically bad 2017 season. He signed a two-year deal with the Royals, who had given him some sort of vague promise that he could compete for a spot in their rotation. He didn’t make it as a starter there, and wound up starting just three games for them out of 28 appearances, posting a 6.91 ERA and 1.824 WHIP. They wound up sending him to the Padres in a deal that brought another ex-Cub, Trevor Cahill, to Kansas City.

Wood went into the Padres rotation and wasn’t much better: 6.71 ERA, 1.662 WHIP in 11 starts, and 15 (!) home runs allowed in 52⅓ innings.

Why, then, bring him back? Because he did have some success as a reliever for the World Series champion Cubs, and yes I acknowledge that his peripherals weren’t all that good. Further, and I do think this matters to Joe Maddon, Wood can be used in the outfield and as a pinch-hitter. Lifetime, he is a .185/.208/.329 hitter with 11 home runs in 298 at-bats, and the photo at the top of this post is from Game 2 of the 2016 NLDS against the Giants, in which he homered:

His career batting has generated 2.5 bWAR — nearly as much as his pitching bWAR of 4.5.

I’ll confess to a somewhat irrational like of Travis Wood. I root for underdogs like him; he’s obviously not supremely talented, but appears to have made the most out of the abilities he does have. Joe Maddon appears to like him a lot.

Signing him to a minor-league deal with a NRI contains no risk whatsoever, in my view. If he’s bad during spring training, he’d simply be released. If he shows any flashes of his previous ability, the Cubs would have two choices: either find room for him on the 25-man roster, or perhaps he’d agree to go pitch in Iowa for a month or two, with an agreement that the team would let him go if he wasn’t called up by, say, May 1 or June 1.

And if he did make the 25-man roster, the Cubs would be on the hook only for the major-league minimum. The Royals are responsible for the rest of the $6.5 million left on his deal this year, plus a $1.5 million buyout for 2019.

If nothing else, the Cubs will need extra arms around early in spring training so that the rotation starters can ease into things. Wood would be a handy guy to have around. I’d like to see this happen.


Should the Cubs sign Travis Wood to a minor-league contract with a NRI to spring training?

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