Door still open for Travis Wood

Door still open for Travis Wood

In case you think the Cubs are satisfied with their pitching staff, think again...

As to what role he would play, I joked that the Cubs staff is so stacked that they may have to list him as a 5th OFer on the roster.  He just happens to be a 5th OFer who could come in and get lefties out.  But while I exaggerated the truth there, there is no question the Cubs value Wood's versatility.

They also value his presence in the clubhouse.  More than one Cubs player has called Wood their favorite teammate.  He keep the bullpen loose and involved in the game -- even if it is sometimes a little perilous to watch them not flinch in the face of hard batted balls coming at them.

And jokes aside, Wood is certainly capable of pinch-hitting for almost any pitcher and he can pinch-run for pitchers and probably any catcher not named Willson Contreras.  He can potentially start, pitch long relief, or just come in to get a lefty or two out.  On a roster that may be trying to get by with 12 position players.

It's a tough choice.  The Padres would give Wood a chance to start and there is no question that is a great place to pitch.  He may be able to raise his value there.  But there is also the close ties he has made in Chicago.  He is a leader in that bullpen.  And last, but not least, winning is fun and Wood certainly has a better chance to do that in Chicago.

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  • Would love to see Travis Wood back with the 2017 Cubs,... But if his goal is to get a crack at SP - he's better served going to the Padres. He's a solid athlete, a versatile player, and a great teammate.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    Would love to see him come back as well. Depends on what he values most right now. Most players take the money -- especially if it comes with better individual opportunity.

  • I still replay Wood's catch in left. He backs up against the ivy and bricks and catches the dang ball! I hope he re-signs with the Cubbies. Just don't go to St. Louis, please!

  • In reply to LRCCubsFan:

    With it being reported that Maddon wants to go with a 13-man pitching staff, you may get a chance to see more of Wood in LF.

    If it is a 13-man staff, that leaves a 4-man bench.

    Szczur/La Stella

    One of Szczur or La Stella will likely not make the 25-man roster. With Almora and Jay both able to play CF, Szczur's ability to play there becomes less important. Add in Zobrist's and Bryant's ability to play corner OF spots and the need for that last bench spot to be an infielder becomes even more apparent.

    I predict Szczur is traded before opening day. If he is, and Wood is signed, it becomes that much more possible we see Wood reprise his role in LF at some point in the coming season...

  • In reply to Quedub:

    Understand that it likely won't happen, because of options etc, particularly with a 13 man staff, but seems like its tough to give Candelario a shot. Or maybe I'm just excited for the "who will be the 25th man" conversation that dominates Spring Training and is irrelevant 3 weeks into the season.

  • In reply to Mjtharp2:

    He's definitely headed for AAA, but he does make a nice depth option.

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    This would be so awesome!!!

  • Also, under the new rules, the Cubs 25 man roster is allowed to go up to 56.

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    He knows everyone here, is the kind of player Joe loves--the temperament and ability to play and pitch in different roles, he's the perfect Cub. Why leave a team like this, especially if the money is relatively the same?
    Also, off topic (I seem to do that sometimes) is there anywhere I can go and see who exactly got full shares and part shares from last year? I heard the Cubs' players were very generous in whom they gave full shares to. Thanks.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    If Wood wasn't with the Cubs already, we would probably call him a perfect fit. Signing him would probably bump Duensing off the 25 man roster.

  • This doesn't surprise me at all. Wood still being available has given me the same feeling I had about Fowler around this time last year, still "lingering".

    I get that Wood wants to start, but his market just never developed. Without a multi-year deal and a significant dollar discrepancy, why wouldn't he want to return? If he gets 2-3 years somewhere with a starter's gig, sure. But at this point, why not just come back, have a blast in a fun, familiar, WORLD-CHAMPIONSHIP environment, and have at it again next year?

    I agree that if he returns, Duensing is the roster casualty. We can't deal him until June 1 (?), and he has enough service time to refuse his remaining options. We would probably just have to eat his $2M, which would basically add $2M to whatever Wood re-signed for, which could throw a monkey-wrench into the whole situation, but I could see it happening.

    "Promising fame,
    The city she tries...
    Promising love,
    The city she lies."

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    His market has developed and 3 teams are in the mix giving him a shot to start.

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    Fair point, but I'm not sure about the three starting offers, and the market developing as pitchers and catchers reporting would make anyone a bit nervous. Arrested development, perhaps.

  • Travis posted a very good ERA last year of 2.95, but don't be fooled by that. His BABIP was unusually low (.215) suggesting he had quite a bit of luck last season. Some of that can be attributed to the Cubs stellar defense, but his career BABIP is 60 points higher.

    Despite the 2.95 ERA, his FIP (4.54) and xFIP (4.83) probably are closer to his actually performance level.

    That said, he's way better than Brian Duensing, the guy he'd likely replace in the bullpen. As a situational reliever, Wood was excellent against lefties in 2016 keeping them to a slash line of 128/.208/.239 with a career slash against lefties of .203/.276/.316. That's way better than Duensing.

    About the only thing Duensing does better is get ground balls. He'd be more of a "bringing in a guy with runners on base to induce a double play ball" than a LOOGY.

    But the real reason to bring Wood back is that he would in effect be the 7th starter bumping Zastryzny, Butler and Mills back a notch. In the drive to repeat, there's tremendous value in veteran rotational depth especially following two years of remarkable (lucky?) health in the starting rotation.

    Zastryzny impressed in his short time with the Cubs last season, but I trust Travis Wood far more than him (and especially Butler & Mills) to fill in during a potential championship year.

    His athleticism, ability to play in LF, pinch hit, pinch run and keep the bullpen loose are added bonuses.

    I'd love to have him back and it wouldn't necessarily mean cutting Duensing. From the time pitcher & catchers report, there's 6 weeks or so before the start of the season. A lot can happen in that time. One of the Cubs relievers could sustain an injury. Or another team could have an injury pop up, and the Cubs could fill their void by trading Grimm (Cubs bullpen depth in AAA is pretty solid this year).

    Fitting him on the 40-man roster won't be an issue. It says a lot that the Cubs even made him an offer.

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    In reply to Quedub:

    Another thing that Wood would do would be to "lengthen" the pitching staff. If he isn't here we might have to carry Butler or Mills--presuming that Wood wins a spot in the pitching staff--when the team would rather send them down. Same thing with Zastryzny.

    And, as you say, there are a lot of things that can happen between Valentine's Day and Opening Day. I enjoy as much as anyone coming up with 25-man rosters but we have to remember that we may be dealing with a different cast of characters when the season actually begins.

  • Come home T. Wood!

  • "But the real reason to bring Wood back is that he would in effect be the 7th starter"....

    I have to assume that the Cubs are preparing for a 180 game season, which make the comments about a 6 (+?)-man rotation more understandable. Wood fits nicely into that paradigm.

    He can't be promised a starter's role here, but 10-15 starts?

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    In reply to wthomson:

    I can easily imagine Wood getting some starts this year. And he couldn't do worse than Brian Matusz. I can imagine a scenario where Maddon puts him out there to pitch a game against the Phillies, Padres, Reds or another struggling franchise during a long stretch with no off-days for the rotation. I would be concerned if he started pitching against the Cardinals, Nationals, Dodgers, Giants, etc.

  • In reply to wthomson:

    He made 0 starts last year

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    It could be part of their pitch to bring him back. He certainly can start. Padres are trying to sign him as a starter.

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    Here's wishing Travis Wood nothing but the best.

  • I understand the roster crunch concern, but how often does a team break camp with all 25 of their top players (roster wise) active, with no one even on the short term DL. Or throughout the year, same question, where all of the top 25 are active at any point in the year?

  • It isn't just a 6th starter situation, resting the starters. Wood, Montgomery, and Anderson (whoever isn't #5) can also rest the pen. If a starter is pulled after five, any of them can go 6-7-8, resting the late inning set-up guys. No way Duensing or Caleb Smith does that. Probably at least as valuable as the spot start. Or two of them tag team (1-3, 4-6) a spot start rather than being exposed third time through the line-up. This was the vision with Warren, Richards, and Cahill last year but the execution was lacking.

  • In reply to charactercounts:

    The "tag-team" is Earnshaw Cook's (Percentage Baseball, 1964) model. He claims, with data, that an entire staff of "tag teams" is the optimal pitching paradigm. Plus, it essentially allows the NL to use a series of pinch/designated hitters,thus also increasing the offense. There have been very limited attempts over the years to use this at the MLB level, so the jury is still out.

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    I also think Duencsing(?) would be gone, but I could be wrong.

  • In reply to Wrigley0923:

    If removing from 40 man you have Brooks, Buchanan, Johnson, Leathersich, Pena, Smith, Rosario

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    AZ Phil had a blurb last week. The only guys that can actually be sent through waivers right now are Brooks and Johnson. The rest would have to be straight up released (and Pena, Rosario wouldn't even be a consideration).

    Right now the options are really just option Brooks to the minors and expose him to waivers, or trade Szczur.

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    In reply to Michael Ernst:

    It sounds like the organization has painted itself into a bit of a corner. Not a huge deal and, while I would rather keep Brooks than lose him--though I guess that isn't guaranteed either--I would rather hold onto a AAA depth guy like that.

    I suspect we are now in the "the decisions get tougher now" phase as the organization wants to do everything it can to put together a competitive team on the field.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Someone could correct me if I'm wrong, but they could sign Wood (or anyone) to a Spring Training invitation (with a wink/understanding) and not make an offsetting move until late March when someone goes on the 60-day or can be passed through or traded.

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    In reply to charactercounts:

    I think he would have to sign a MLB contract. If the Cubs say, "We'll offer you a minor league deal" then I doubt he takes it. Not that he wouldn't trust the Cubs to make good but I believe the Cubs 40-man roster is full right now. Let's say they go through Spring Training and suffer "normal" injuries and someone has to go on the DL. Wood would STILL have to fit onto the 40-man roster. 60-day DL injuries are not common in Spring Training. And I think a 60-day DL visit requires more documentation or else every team would be trying to put guys on the 60-day DL rather than putting them through waivers.

    So, unless we get a dramatic injury or can pull off a trade suddenly Wood finds himself without a MLB spot come Opening Day. That is asking him to risk a lot and if I were him I wouldn't even consider that a legitimate offer. Especially if he has 2 other offers pending.

    As for passing someone through waivers if the Cubs wanted to do that they could basically do it now, or at least when they had Wood's signature. But waiting until the end of Spring Training to do it could, I suppose, mean most teams will have full 40-man rosters but that is a heck of a risk to take for everyone involved. Plus, as Michael points out above, the Cubs have a limited list of people that they will be interested in "waiving" anyway.

    Could something like the Dexter Fowler thing happen again? I suppose. I am sure that the Cubs have their "ears to the ground" and looking for possible suitors/offers for players on the 40-man roster. But the Cubs made a trade of Chris Coghlan BEFORE they brought Fowler in.

    I am not "opposed" to Travis coming back. Nor do I think it is impossible that they will sign him. I just don't think offering to make him a NRI (non-roster invitee) is going to get him to sign. I know that if I had 2 offers on the table. One was to work in a job in my field. The other was an offer to "try out" for another, more successful company, and they would see if they could fit me in in a month or two and give me a contract I would be very hesitant to do that.

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    In reply to charactercounts:

    I tried posting but it got caught up in the administrator vortex. We'll see if it comes out.

    Short version: I doubt Wood would sign as a NRI (Non-Roster Invitee) since there would be a possibility he would be the one left standing without a chair when the music stops and suddenly finds himself a FA DURING the season.

  • I can go either way on Wood. Fine if he comes back, fine if he leaves. Part of me wants them to turn the page & go w/the guys here/acquired... Mainly Z, because I really liked his poise last year & w/a full season maybe takes the next step. The other part of me does not want to see Wood go to a contender w/in the NL.

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    In reply to Milk Stout:

    I think the plan for Rob Z is to keep him in AAA for starter depth assuming he's not needed in a healthy bullpen to start the season. I heard Theo talk about that in a radio interview over the weekend. They really believe in him as a future starter for the team and want to get him some innings in AAA before unleashing him as a starter on the MLB.

  • The Padres will lose over 100 games this season.

    If Travis signs a short-term deal with the Padres, I could see the Cubs trading for him at the deadline if bullpen struggles.

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