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The Red Report 2019 — Alex Wood

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What would a strong season from the lefty mean to the Reds in 2019?

Cincinnati Reds Photo Day Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images

Fast Facts

  • Left-handed pitcher
  • 28 years old
  • Native of Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Is mildly online

Organizational history

  • Drafted in the 2nd round of the 2012 draft by the Atlanta Braves.
  • Traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers as part of a three-team, 12-player deal on July 30, 2015. The deal also included current Red Jose Peraza and former Red Bronson Arroyo.
  • Traded to the Cincinnati Reds with outfielder Yasiel Puig, outfielder Matt Kemp and infielder/catcher Kyle Farmer in exchange for right-handed pitcher Homer Bailey, right-handed pitcher Josiah Gray and infielder Jeter Downs on Dec. 21, 2018.

Career stats

Scouting report

Ken Gif-y Jr.

Projections

Outlook

When the Cincinnati Reds set out to Get The Pitching this offseason, it seems in retrospect that they had a type. They were interested in arms they could acquire via trade, who are nearing the end of their current contracts, and had proven they could eat a considerable number of innings over the course of the season while contributing positively to a winning team. Sonny Gray met those requirements, and so did Tanner Roark, but there might not have been anyone who fit that description better than Alex Wood.

Wood, you might remember, was brought to Cincinnati as part of a deal that also landed the Reds Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp and Kyle Farmer, all while ridding them of Homer Bailey, at the expense of two young prospects in the low minor leagues. He arrived coming off two very productive seasons, posting 6.1 total fWAR and throwing at least 150 innings in back-to-back seasons that saw the Dodgers reach the World Series. Wood wasn’t a part of the postseason rotation during their most recent playoff run, but it’s difficult to argue with the idea that he played a decent role in the team winning a division crown, as the left-hander threw the second-most innings on the team while holding down an ERA+ of 105. There are only so many guys in baseball who could claim both Wood’s innings workload and the quality of his performance in 2018, but for a Dodgers team that has the future Hall-of-Famer Clayton Kershaw in the fold alongside the super-talented Walker Buehler, spin-master Rich Hill, breakout savior Ross Stripling and a hopefully healthy Hyun-Jin Ryu, Wood suddenly looked more like a near-$10 million luxury than someone the Dodgers would see themselves relying on to help them finally win a World Series.

The Reds are hoping to make them pay for that assessment. Wood fits in with other Cincinnati pitchers such as Anthony DeSclafani, Luis Castillo and Tyler Mahle who don’t pull off the best spin rates in the game, but still manage to keep hitters off-balance. The spin on his fastball and breaking ball grade toward the bottom of all pitchers in baseball, but the quality of contact he generates is consistently above-average from a pitcher’s perspective. His strikeout rates, walk rates and home run rates have stayed consistent throughout his career as well, and despite the warning flags that might come with a Tommy John surgery in his past, Wood has pitched at least 150 innings in four of the last five seasons.

And while Wood’s quiet dependability might not suit the Dodgers in another pennant chase, they’re pretty much exactly what the Reds will be looking for. Castillo remains Cincinnati’s breakout hope, and after the extension it agreed to with Gray, some strides from him would be important for the franchise to observe in 2019 as well. But for a pitcher like Wood, who will hit free agency at season’s end, the Reds are perfectly fine sitting back and taking what he gives them, knowing that his worst-case scenario in a healthy season likely still results in a win or two above replacement level pitching, while the best case scenario is a soft-contact machine who garners some down-ballot Cy Young consideration at season’s end.