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Cubs free agent target: Alex Wood

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Here’s another lefthander who could help the Cubs... if he can stay healthy.

Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

If the title of this article sounds familiar, it should — because I wrote one with the very same headline here in December 2019.

It’s probably a good thing the Cubs didn’t take my advice then. Wood, who has had some injury issues throughout his career, had some shoulder problems in 2020 after signing for his second sting with the Dodgers and made only nine appearances (two starts) with them, posting a 6.39 ERA and 1.816 WHIP. Yikes.

Granted free agency again after 2020, Wood signed with the Giants and had one of the best years of his career. Wood missed a couple of weeks at the beginning of the 2021 season due to back problems but after that put together a fine year, with a 3.83 ERA, 1.183 WHIP and 1.5 bWAR in 26 starts. He missed a couple more outings in late August and early September on the COVID-19 list but otherwise remained healthy throughout 2021.

Health has been an issue throughout Wood’s career. He has made 30+ starts just once in nine MLB seasons, in 2015 when he split time between the Braves and Dodgers. He will turn 31 in January and while many would prefer him over Steven Matz, who I wrote about here last Friday, I think I’d rather have Matz.

Wood’s peak salary year was 2019 with the Reds, when he made $9.65 million. He then signed a $4 million deal with the Dodgers (which was pro-rated to about $1.48 million in the 60-game pandemic season). He signed a $3 million deal with the Giants in 2021 that included a possible $3 million in incentives, as follows:

performance bonuses for games in which Wood records 10 or more outs: $125,000 each for 12, 14 games. $250,000 each for 16, 18, 20, 22, 24 games. $500,000 each for 26, 28, 30 games.

A bit complicated, but to make it simple, Wood earned $2 million of those $3 million in incentives.

Given his injury history I think I’d want to offer Wood another deal with incentives, so how about something like this:

$5 million base salary for 2022 and $1 million for each start made after the 26th (the number he had in 2021). That way if he gets to 32 starts, he’d make $11 million in 2022.

$7 million base salary for 2023 and 2024, with an escalator of $1 million for each start he makes past the 26th in the previous year. That way he’d make $13 million in 2023 and 2024 if he gets to 32 starts in the previous year.

$15 million vesting option for 2025 if he makes it to 33 starts in 2024, otherwise a $5 million buyout.

If Wood makes all the incentives that’s a four-year, $52 million deal. The Cubs would be on the hook for at least $24 million over the four years — more if Wood is durable, not so much if he’s not, $6 million minimum AAV for luxury tax purposes, $13 million maximum AAV.

Who says no?

Poll

Alex Wood...

This poll is closed

  • 30%
    ... the Cubs should sign him to a contract like the one proposed in the article
    (92 votes)
  • 12%
    ... the Cubs should sign him, but to a deal different to the one proposed in the article
    (37 votes)
  • 57%
    ... the Cubs should not sign him
    (176 votes)
305 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Steven Matz or Alex Wood for the Cubs?

This poll is closed

  • 47%
    Matz
    (126 votes)
  • 8%
    Wood
    (23 votes)
  • 25%
    Why not both?
    (68 votes)
  • 18%
    Neither
    (49 votes)
266 votes total Vote Now