CHICAGO -- Despite his down year in 2014, expect Chicago Cubs left-hander Travis Wood to be tendered a contract before a Tuesday night deadline, according to a source familiar with the situation.
Wood, 27, is one of 10 Cubs players who are arbitration-eligible this offseason, and the team must tender contracts to all of them by 11 p.m. CT on Tuesday or else they become free agents. Jake Arrieta is the highest-profile player in the group, but given his breakout year in 2014 there’s little doubt he’ll be tendered. Wood wasn’t necessarily a slam dunk considering his 8-13 record and 5.03 ERA last season.
But given Wood's age and the fact he’s just one year removed from being an All-Star –- plus he’s left-handed -– he will get tendered. However, with the return of lefty Tsuyoshi Wada at $4 million for next season the Cubs could still move one of their lefties in a trade this winter. Wood is slated to make about $5.5 million in arbitration, according to MLB Trade Rumors, after making $3.9 million last season.
Wood is a control pitcher who’s at his best when painting the corners while working both high and low in the strike zone. That wasn’t the case as much in 2014, when he walked 10 more batters and gave up 27 more hits in 27 fewer innings pitched than the year before. According to ESPN Stats and Information, his line drive percentage went from 19 percent in 2013 to nearly 25 percent in 2014. That was 7th highest of 88 qualified starting pitchers.
One industry source recently indicated a potential signing of catcher Russell Martin would have helped Wood more than anyone else on the Cubs staff. Martin's receiving skills plus his veteran knowledge would helped the lefty regain his footing after the league adjusted to his breakout year in 2013. But Martin signed with the Toronto Blue Jays, leaving the Cubs with two catchers from last season, who are both under team control.
Catchers Welington Castillo and John Baker are among the 10 players who need to be tendered, along with pitchers Wesley Wright, Pedro Strop and Felix Doubront. Outfielders Justin Ruggiano and Chris Coughlan, as well as infielder Luis Valbuena, join Wood and Arrieta on the arbitration-eligible list as well.
Contracts with these players can be negotiated at any time and don’t need to be completed by Tuesday’s deadline. The sides can go to arbitration before spring training but usually one-year deals are negotiated before a hearing takes place.