If you were hoping the Yankees would make a late push for a pitcher, this will be very disappointing news. According to a report from late last night, Ken Rosenthal announced that Brian Cashman will not be pursuing free agent left-hander Travis Wood. It had been rumored that the Yankees were checking in on him just the other day, but they likely didn’t get the answer they wanted and decided to move on.
After he signed Chris Carter to a cheap $3 million deal, it became clear that Brian Cashman is still fishing around in the free agent market. The Yankees might not have needed Carter—and they probably don’t need any other player still out there—but they have shown that they are willing to make something happen if the cost makes sense for them. We obviously don’t know what the sides said to each other, but Wood could have been an interesting addition if terms had been amicable.
Right now, Wood is 30 years old coming off a season where he pitched to a 2.95 ERA but with a questionable 4.54 FIP disparity in 61 innings. He was likely done in by a high home run rate of 1.2 HR/9. While he has found success in the bullpen, the Yankees likely have a greater need for starting pitching depth. He has not started since 2015, and not regularly since 2014, but over his career he maintained a 4.19 ERA in six seasons while making one All-Star appearance.
Wood made just over $6 million with the Cubs last year, but a price like that—or likely more on the free agent market—was never going to do it for the tight-budgeting Yankees front office. Maybe half that price would have worked, but Wood is probably better off waiting for a better deal to come along, even if pitchers and catchers are reporting tomorrow.
I imagine the Yankees are prepared to enter spring training with the pieces they have on hand. We know Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia, and Michael Pineda will be in the rotation, but the final two spots will be up for grabs. Wood would have been a welcomed addition to the field of competition that includes Chad Green, Luis Cessa, Luis Severino, Adam Warren, and Bryan Mitchell just because we know he can contribute leave average numbers over a full season.
If the Yankees saw him as more of a reliever (which he likely is now), he could have been a solid bullpen piece for a team in need of a stronger middle relief corps. Jonathan Holder and Ben Heller could be key to the bullpen’s ultimate success in 2017, but do we want to put our hopes in more unproven players right after the group before them utterly failed? A sure thing there would be nice too.
It’s entirely possible that Cashman continues to target players on the cheap, but at this point, the choices are becoming even narrower than they were a month ago. Names like Colby Lewis, Jorge De La Rosa, Joe Blanton, Luke Hochevar, and Tommy Hunter are still available and could end up serving as important depth pieces or actual role players. Don’t count on it, though.
Wood gets $12M for the 2 yrs in royals deal— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) February 13, 2017