LHP Travis Wood – 29 years old
2016: Chicago Cubs
Wood’s free agency could go in several different directions, and the first question that needs to be answered is whether he’ll be hitting the market as a starting pitcher or a reliever.
Working as a near full-time reliever in 2015 and 2016 (he made nine starts in ’15), Wood has really found a niche as a left-on-left specialist with the World Series Champion Chicago Cubs.
As recently as 2014, though, Wood was a full-time rotation piece. In 2013 he was named an All-Star, posting a 3.12 ERA over 200.0 innings pitched.
Wood’s lefty-righty splits will be a primary bargaining chip for him when the market opens. In 2015, he held left-handers to a .597 OPS compared to a .698 mark against right handers.
This year, his dominance against left-handers placed him as one of the game’s best in that area, holding them to a .447 OPS over 120 plate appearances. His .865 OPS against righties was problematic, however, and that will need to drop in order for Wood to become a more well-rounded bullpen option.
His 2.95 ERA in a relief role these past two seasons sets Wood up for a multi-year deal, but he could be viewed as anything from a depth starter to a high-end lefty specialist. To Toronto, his best fit would be in a middle-relief role with a heavy left-hand focus. Something like what Aaron Loup offered the team when he was at his best three years ago.
The Rogers Centre may not be a great fit for Wood, however, being a fly ball pitcher who allows his fair share of hard contact. He leans heavily on his hard stuff, mainly a fastball and cutter, and he could benefit from one of his secondary offerings stepping forward as a true wipeout pitch.
Lefty relief is one of Toronto’s biggest voids, though, so expect to hear them linked to several options at the position. If there’s belief that Loup can rebound as a specialist, however, there would need to be a belief that Wood could become more well-rounded for the Jays to have legitimate interest.
Likelihood: Conceivable, but don’t buy the jersey just yet.
Next Up: A veteran closer with gas in the tank