Wednesday is the deadline for teams to tender contracts to unsigned players under club control for next season. There are nine arbitration eligible players currently on the 40-man roster. The front office has not given any indications that a player will be non-tendered and become a free agent, and that includes LHP Travis Wood.
Travis Wood is under club control for one more season. Wood is in line for a hefty pay raise, more than a middle reliever or swingman is usually paid. Wood had a $5.685 million salary this past season and through the arbitration process he should receive between $6.2-6.8 million for the 2016 season.
Wood was not able to keep his starting job and was moved to the bullpen in May. Wood had success as a reliever but indicated in September he planned to train as a starting pitcher this off-season.
After a solid April in which he was 2-1 in four starts with a 3.04 ERA and 1.06 WHIP, three straight bad starts in May (May 4, May 9 and May 14) pushed Wood to the pen. When the Cubs needed a starting pitcher as the season progressed, Joe Maddon said he preferred Wood in the bullpen. Outside of a couple of spot starts that lasted only a few innings, Wood was a reliever from the middle of May through the end of the regular season and in the playoffs.
To Wood’s credit he handled the move to the pen as a professional and helped the Cubs win games. Wood also had a little extra on his fastball and did not seem to nibble as much. Wood attacked hitters, something Chris Bosio had trouble getting him to do on a regular basis as a starter.
As a reliever, Wood was 3-2 in 45 games with a 2.95 ERA and 1.20 WHIP. Wood gave up 22 runs, 19 earned, on 43 hits with 27 walks and 71 strikeouts in 58 innings.
For the season, Wood posted a 5-4 record in 54 games, nine starts, with a 3.84 ERA and 1.24 WHIP (48 runs, 43 earned, 86 hits, 39 walks, 118 strikeouts in 100 2/3 innings), plus he notched four saves.
Based on countless reports, the Cubs tried to trade Wood last winter. The front office could not find the right deal and Maddon was able to get a good season out of him. Wood was 0-1 in 30 games, two starts, after the break with a 2.97 ERA and 1.19 WHIP.
Cubs Arbitration Eligible Players
- Jake Arrieta
- Rex Brothers
- Chris Coghlan
- Ryan Cook
- Justin Grimm
- Clayton Richard
- Hector Rondon
- Pedro Strop
- Travis Wood
Theo Epstein said during his end of season press conference that arbitration eligible players will put a pretty big dent in the team’s available payroll for 2016.
Jake Arrieta is arbitration eligible for the second time. Arrieta made $3.63 million in 2015 and should receive between $10-11 million for 2016 after his Cy Young Award winning season.
This is Coghlan’s third arbitration year. Chris Coghlan settled with the Cubs last winter on a $2.505 million contract. Coghlan should see his salary increase to between $3.3-3.8 million.
Justin Grimm is a Super Two after earning a little more than the league minimum ($532,000) in 2015 and should see his salary increase to between $800,000-1.2 million. Clayton Richard signed a minor league deal with the Pirates that should have called for league minimum ($507,500). If that is the case, Richard should see his salary increase to between $1-1.4 million.
The Cubs have two late inning relievers that will see a sizeable increases in 2016. Hector Rondon made $544,000 and in his first year of arbitration eligibility should receive between $3.2-3.9 million. Pedro Strop is a Super Two player. In his third year of salary arbitration, Strop should go from $2.525 million to between $4.3-4.5 million.
Ryan Cook is arbitration eligible and should receive between $1.2-1.5 million. And the newest Cubs’ reliever Rex Brothers is also arbitration eligible and should be looking at the same salary as Cook, between $1.2-1.5 million.
Even with Rex Brothers, Clayton Richard and Zac Rosscup on the 40-man, Wood has enough value for the Cubs not to just let him walk away. The Cubs could very well try to trade him again this winter but it’s difficult to see the front office non-tendering a 28-year old southpaw, especially one with the stuff Travis Wood has.