Although it appears that Brian Cashman is pretty much finished adding to the Yankees’ roster, there are still a few players available that could make sense for him to add before spring training. One of those players is left-handed reliever Travis Wood. While the bullpen is not the team’s greatest area of need, it doesn’t feel like you can really ever have too many options to turn to in relief.
Wood spent the last several seasons with the Chicago Cubs, being worth right around one win per season aside from a stellar 2013 campaign in which he was worth 2.7 fWAR. He had a 2.95 ERA for the World Series champions last year with a somewhat ugly 4.54 FIP and declining strike out numbers.
The dwindling strikeouts and lower swing-and-miss percentage are definitely a concern, and probably explains why Wood is still unsigned as the calendar moves toward February. After posting a 10.55 K/9 in 2015, Wood’s K/9 dropped to just 6.93 last season. Is he losing his touch as he approaches his 30th birthday?
Relievers can shine very brightly for a moment before turning into complete dust. It has happened before and it will certainly happen again. However, maybe Wood’s problem is a fixable one. Maybe he can find those strikeout numbers again.
There is a limited amount of risk here if Wood would accept a one-year deal. Maybe he improves, or maybe he doesn’t and not much is lost. The Yankees have found success with relievers in the past, and this is the kind of move that would make sense to try and conceal the obvious flaws of the team’s rotation.
Travis Wood isn’t going to save anybody or anything, but he could be a smart addition. The Yankees should have the money for him if they really wanted to do it, but there hasn’t been a lot of indication they want to spend more than they already have. Still, it would make some sense for them to do so. There is practically nothing to lose.