Travis Wood is currently the longest tenured Cub, but that may not be the case by Opening Day.
According to a report from Bruce Levine, teams are showing interest in Travis Wood and he faces an uncertain future with the Cubs.
The depth the front office added to the rotation and bullpen this off-season has made Wood expendable. Plus, the Cubs could shed his $6.17 million salary for a more cost-effective lefty like Rex Brothers. The Cubs and Brothers avoided arbitration with a $1.42 million contract for the 2016 season.
Levine reported the Cubs showcased Travis Wood in Thursday’s spring opener. Wood completed two innings and allowed one run on one hit with no walks and two strikeouts.
Teams have contacted the Cubs about Wood’s availability. While his $6.17 million salary is a little step for a swingman/utility pitcher, his contract is not too expensive for teams in need of a starter for the backend of the rotation.
Levine did not say which teams have reached out to the Cubs about Wood.
Joe Maddon thinks Wood would like to be a starter. The Cubs respect what Wood brings to the table. But unless injuries create an opening in the rotation, Wood will pitch out of the bullpen where he had a lot of success last season.
Travis Wood posted a 3-2 record in 45 appearances with four saves, 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. As a starter, Wood was 2-2 in nine games with a 5.06 ERA and 1.28 WHIP.
Wood was a combined 5-4 with four saves, a 3.84 ERA, 3.40 WHIP and 1.24 WHIP in 54 games, nine starts, last season.
If Wood is still with the team, he is expected to be part of the Cubs bullpen on Opening Day that could include Trevor Cahill, Clayton Richard and Adam Warren.
Bruce Levine pointed out that Brothers could “slide into the role Wood had last season.”
Wood turned down a reported three-year extension before the 2014 season that would have paid him around $30 million. Wood is a free agent at the end of the season.
Before the Cubs tendered Wood a contract for this season, reports suggested the front office would either non-tender him or trade him. The Cubs and Wood avoided arbitration instead and he spent the off-season in the conversation about the bullpen and utility pitchers.
Even with the rising cost of relievers, if the Cubs think another lefty, like Brothers, can be as effective as Wood was last season at a lower cost that is a move that should be done for the team and the player.
Freeing up a roster spot and creating room on the payroll for mid-season additions could be the route the front office decides is best for the team and for Travis Wood.