Despite talks about big roster changes, the Los Angeles Dodgers have been relatively quiet this offseason as they look to get back in World Series contention in 2020.
The Dodgers were linked to just about every big-name free agent, but to this point, they have only taken gambles on three pitchers coming off injury-plagued seasons.
One of those signings was bringing back Alex Wood, who played in L.A. from 2015-18 before being traded to the Cincinnati Reds. He suffered a back injury during Spring Training and was limited to just seven starts with the Reds in 2019, going 1-3 with a 5.80 ERA, 6.38 FIP and 1.40 WHIP with 30 strikeouts and nine walks in 35.2 innings.
Wood was an All-Star with the Dodgers in 2017 though, so president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and his staff certainly know what he is capable of. Due to injuries though, Wood was only able to secure a one-year, incentive-heavy contract in free agency.
Speaking for the first time since re-signing with the Dodgers, Wood stated he is healthy thanks in some part to working with Driveline Baseball and is looking forward to the season, via AM 570 LA Sports:
“Oh yeah man, I’ve been ready. I’ve been throwing since Oct. 20, I’ve been going back and forth to Driveline Training the whole offseason and my body feels great. I’m throwing the ball well and really excited for camp. Really, really excited.”
Wood has been a lock to be in the Dodgers’ starting rotation in years past, but that is not the case this season. Considering he is coming off a significant injury, he will have to earn his spot with an impressive spring.
While Wood has experience as a reliever and could end up in the bullpen, he made it clear that he anticipates being be a starter in 2020:
“I’m coming back on a one-year deal. I love L.A. and love the Dodgers, but if I was coming back to pitch in the bullpen, that really wouldn’t have been an option for me. I guess I’ll just leave it at that.”
Barring any other offseason additions, the Dodgers currently have four locks to make the Opening Day rotation if healthy in Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw, Kenta Maeda and Julio Urias. That leaves one more spot, with Wood, Dustin May, Tony Gonsolin, Jimmy Nelson and Ross Stripling among those competing for it.
If Wood is healthy and can get anywhere close to his 2017 form, he has to be considered the favorite to earn that rotation spot given the inexperience of both May and Gonsolin.
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