Posted on January 13, 2020, by Bryan Zarpentine
It’s been an unusually quiet offseason for the Los Angeles Dodgers, but they are starting to make some moves late in the winter with spring training around the corner. Late Sunday, the Dodgers agreed to terms with left-handed starter Alex Wood. It’s a one-year deal worth $4 million in base salary, although Wood could make up to $10 million in 2020 with incentives.
Of course, Wood is a familiar face for the Dodgers. The 29-year-old southpaw spent three and a half years in Los Angeles after the Dodgers acquired him in a midseason trade in 2015. Injuries limited him in 2016, but Wood was a huge part of the Los Angeles rotation in 2017 and 2018. Wood’s best season of his career came in 2017 when he went 16-3 with a 2.72 ERA, making the All-Star Team for the first time.
Despite being an important part of their rotation, the Dodgers traded Wood to the Reds last offseason as part of a salary dump. Unfortunately for Wood, a back injury sidelined him for the first half of the season. He didn’t make his season debut until late July and didn’t pitch at all in September. Ultimately, Wood made just seven starts, going 1-3 with a 5.80 ERA. However, he’s a good candidate to have a bounce-back season if he can stay healthy.
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That being said, injuries have always been an issue for Wood, even before last season. After missing a big chunk of the 2016 season with a triceps issue, Wood also had IL stints during the 2017 and 2018 seasons with the Dodgers as well. That injury history is a big reason why he had to settle for an incentive-laden one-year deal. However, he offers good value and upside for the Dodgers if Wood can stay healthy and return to the form he had during his first stint in Los Angeles.
Wood will be part of a contingent of pitchers competing for the last two spots in the Los Angeles rotation. Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, and Kenta Maeda will lead the rotation. That leaves Wood, Julio Urias, and Jimmy Nelson to fill out the back end of the rotation. Urias pitched well out of the bullpen last year, but the Dodgers would like to make him part of the rotation in 2020.
That could leave Wood battling with Nelson in spring training for the no. 5 spot. Nelson missed all of 2018 because of a shoulder problem while elbow issues limited him to just three starts and seven relief outings with the Brewers in 2019. Like Wood, he had his breakout season in 2017, and the Dodgers are taking a shot on him after Milwaukee did not tender him a contract for next season.
For the Dodgers, signing Wood is a great move to help solidify the back of their rotation. L.A. has had a wealth of rotation depth in recent years, so adding Wood is a good way to retain that as a strength. Obviously, both Wood and Nelson come with injury questions. But the Dodgers also have prospects Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin has depth in the minors. If somehow everyone is healthy, Wood can also be used out of the bullpen. Considering the $4 million base salary and his performance in 2017 and 2018 when healthy, signing Wood is a great low-risk move that could pay big dividends for the Dodgers in 2020.