Commentary: Cubs should have signed Travis Wood
|Monday, February 13, 2017, 3:57 PM- -|
CHICAGO -- Throughout his Chicago Cubs career, which began in 2012, pitcher Travis Wood served as a valuable commodity on the hill for the North Siders, proving to be perhaps their most reliable starter at times during the lean years, early on in Wood's Cubs tenure, and later serving as perhaps the Cubs' most reliable arm out of the bullpen.
A mainstay as a middle reliever for the Cubs this past season, Wood was consistently called upon in tight spots, with his starting acumen allowing him to pitch well if hailed from the pen during a game's early innings or if his outing required him to remain on the mound for several innings.
Wood was a Renaissance man of sorts for the Cubs, earning himself quite the reputation for being Mr. Do Everything at Wrigley Field. From making an impressive catch in left field while being engulfed by ivy to becoming only the second relief pitcher ever to homer in the postseason, Wood compiled himself quite the eclectic list of accomplishments in 2016.
Surprisingly, Wood received relatively little interest from the Cubs as a free agent and decided to take his talents elsewhere, signing with the Kansas City Royals. With pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training in the near future, Wood somehow remained unsigned until now, and the Cubs should not have hesitated in legitimately attempting to re-sign him like they did.
To be fair, Wood's statistics are not eye-popping by any stretch of the imagination, but they rarely are for a middle reliever. Going 4-0 with a 2.95 ERA in 77 appearances, Wood was more than adequate last season, though, and, considering that the Cubs' lone area of needed improvement is relief pitching, Chicago should have been more than willing to re-sign him.
At 30 years old, Wood provides the perfect amount of experience for a Cubs bullpen teeming with greenhorns, and his starting experience could have also continued to come in handy, especially since manager Joe Maddon developed a tendency to keep his starters' outings relatively short this past season.
The only definitive concern for the Cubs throughout the 2016 slate was their bullpen, with management constantly cycling through relief options, adding new arms via the farm system and the trade market. In fact, if not for the acquisitions of Aroldis Chapman and Mike Montgomery, in addition to the quick assimilation of young reliever C.J. Edwards to the majors, the Cubs would have arguably stood little chance of having the postseason run that they had, as relief pitching is never more important than it is in the playoffs.
Of course, the ripening talent of last year's relief unit is now a bit older and a bit more experienced, and although Chapman left the Windy City earlier in the offseason, the Cubs acquired two-time All-Star closer Wade Davis from the Royals to take his place. However, there are still questions surrounding the Cubs' bullpen that Wood could have helped answer.
With rumors swirling regarding potential landing spots for Wood, including the New York Yankees and the Oakland Athletics, the Cubs were reported to have offered Wood a contract over the weekend. Whether or not the financial terms of the deal had any impact on Wood's decision to turn it down for greener pastures in Kansas City remains unknown. Regardless, that decision, as well as the decision made on behalf of the Cubs to not prioritize signing a priority reliever like Wood, could ultimately make or break the Chicago Cubs' bullpen this season. Only time will tell.