Astros: Free-agent pitcher Alex Wood could be a diamond in the rough
The Astros still haven’t found that free-agent pitcher that was on their offseason wish list and Alex Wood may be one down the list that could be a steal.
We’re about to ring in the new year and Spring Training will be here before you know it. The Astros have been relatively inactive this offseason and there is still one vacancy that they have yet to fill, a #3 or #4 starting pitcher to round out the rotation. There is one pitcher that teams may be overlooking and could a diamond in the rough, Alex Wood.
This offseason started out with a rather large selection of starting pitchers on the free-agent market, but with the needs of many teams for starters, that list is shrinking fast. There were over 50 SPs that became free agents this year and teams are snatching them up right and left with over half of them signed, including 18 of ESPN’s top 20.
With the Astros financial constraints in their attempt to minimize the luxury tax penalty, combined with the lack of options left on the market, Houston my be better off trying to find a reclamation project for pitching coach Brent Strom. Alex Wood may just be that project. Many teams could be overlooking Wood due to a very disappointing 2019 season that is most likely a result of a back injury.
When Wood is healthy, he is a talent that would be an asset to any starting rotation. Wood suffered a back injury in Spring Training last season and didn’t even pitch his first game until July 28th. He got in seven appearances in 2019 before his back flared up again and was done for the season, going 1-3 with a dismal 5.80 ERA.
But when you discard that season, Wood has a career 3.29 ERA and an ERA+ of 117 in those first six years. As recently as 2017, the 28-year-old led the Major Leagues with a .842 winning percentage posting a 16-3 record and an ERA of 2.72. That performance earned him a spot on the All-Star team and a ninth-place showing in the Cy Young Award voting.
I know that some of you may have an issue with Wood’s statement about the sign-stealing allegations, but I’m afraid you’d be hardpressed to find a free agent pitcher that probably hasn’t said or thought the same thing. Woods had mentioned that they had heard of the rumors and when pitching in Houston they would take extra measures to combat it.
Be that as it may, I think Woods could be a great left-handed addition to the rotation as long as he’s had enough time to overcome his back problems. With the numbers he put up last year and the injury woes, Woods could possibly be picked up at a lower salary range and be a low-risk high-reward gamble.