By Jason Shetler
On Friday, MLB Network insider Jon Morosi tweeted that Travis Wood is drawing interest as a starter, and has received at least one Major League offer from a team to use in their rotation.
Wood last pitched primarily as a starter as recent as 2014 with the Chicago Cubs, and struggled to the tune of a 5.03 ERA. His best work as a rotation arm came in 2013 for the Cubs, posting an ERA of 3.11 and compiling 200 innings for the first time in his career. He was also named to the NL All-Star team that year as well.
Last season, Wood was used exclusively in relief with the Cubs and made 77 appearances. Despite pitching as a starter before, manager Joe Maddon utilized him as more of a lefty specialist, as he pitched 61 innings.
Even with the Pirates signing Ivan Nova this offseason, they still could look to address the rotation. However, here’s why I think they should avoid trying to sign Travis Wood.
Although Wood posted a 2.95 ERA last year, the metrics weren’t encouraging, as his FIP and xFIP were 4.54 and 4.83 respectively. He also benefited from a .215 BABIP, which isn’t sustainable. Wood is an extreme flyball pitcher, posting groundball rates below 40% in each of his seven big league seasons.
I certainly would be in favor of the Pirates adding another arm to the rotation, but bringing in a possible regression candidate like Wood may not be the best decision. Personally, I’d like to see the Pirates re-visit the possibility of trading for Jose Quintana from the Chicago White Sox. If they choose not to, then I’d rather see one of their internal options be the fifth starter as opposed to signing Travis Wood.