Alex Wood was one of the big acquisitions for the Cincinnati Reds this past offseason. He came to the Reds in the Dodgers trade that also brought outfielders Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp, as well as utility player Kyle Farmer. The trade, thus far, hasn’t exactly panned out as the front office had hoped. The team has already released Matt Kemp. Yasiel Puig has been hitting the ball hard of late, but he’s still struggling at the plate overall. Kyle Farmer’s played well, but he’s also been used sparingly. And then there is Alex Wood, who hasn’t yet pitched a single inning.

Alex Wood had a career ERA of 3.29 when he was acquired. He was the kind of guy who was supposed to be plugged into the rotation who could help the team “get the pitching” and stabilize the rotation that needed all of the help it could get. But the left-handers back began to flare up in spring training and he was shut down. At first it wasn’t expected that he’d miss much time. Things would get to the point where he would take the mound and throw in April, but his back didn’t respond after and he was shut back down. Last week he had his back examined and nothing new showed up and the plan is for him to resume throwing in about two weeks, according to manager David Bell.

That leaves open the question of what exactly will the team do if and when Alex Wood is capable of taking the mound again. The Reds rotation has pitched well this season. Sonny Gray has the worst ERA among the group at 4.15. Tanner Roark is sitting at 3.27, while Anthony DeSclafani’s 3.65 and Tyler Mahle’s 3.69 marks are both above-average. And then there’s Luis Castillo, arguably having the best season of any starter in baseball so far. The rotation is getting it done. And the peripherals of the pitchers suggest it’s not exactly a situation where their ERA is lying and they’ve been lucky.

So would the Reds entertain the idea of pushing someone out of the rotation for Alex Wood when he’s ready to return? Guys like Luis Castillo and Sonny Gray won’t be replaced – they are be counted on as staples of the rotation moving forward. But Anthony DeSclafani and Tyler Mahle are both pitching very well right now, too. And then there’s Tanner Roark, who the team is likely hoping to be able to trade away in July for something of value, as he’s an impending free agent. Likewise, Alex Wood is also an impending free agent that the team is likely hoping to cash in if they don’t go on a big run and rack up the wins to get into true playoff contention.

That leaves them in a strange position. Do they put Alex Wood into the rotation if everyone else continues performing at their current level simply because they will be looking to try and get maximum value from him in a trade and that’s only going to happen if he pitches well as a starter? Or would they entertain the idea of pitching him out of the bullpen and try to extract on-field value from him and perhaps some trade value as a reliever at the deadline? If it’s going to be as a starter, it would seem that the only options would be, assuming no injuries in the rotation, DeSclafani or Mahle.

Jesse Winker – out with a tight quad

The Cincinnati Reds haven’t had outfielder Jesse Winker in the lineup for a few days now. The first day he was out was with a left-handed starter on the mound, so there wasn’t much thought about where he was in the lineup. But on Thursday with a right-handed starter on the mound he was once again out of the lineup. Bobby Nightengale of the Cincinnati Enquirer noted prior to the game that Winker’s been dealing with tightness in his left quad. On the field before the game Winker tested things out with the training staff and was available to pinch hit on the day, but ultimately was not used. David Bell noted that he was likely to be in the lineup on Friday.

37 Responses

  1. jreis

    actually, I think this will work out perfectly for the reds. Mahle has yet to prove he can last an entire major league season so instead of waiting for him to crash and burn I say move him to the bullpen when Wood returns. He can eat up a lot of innings for a worn out bullpen.

  2. matthew hendley

    Winker will be back tomorrow so I will skip him,
    For Wood, here is a revolutionary Idea. GIve him a pillow contract extension. Offer him an extension that will cover the 2020 season, with a solid non insulting base, but also significant achievable incentives as well.

    Why will it work?
    For the Reds: With castillo, Gray and Probably Disco, it provides 4/5 of the rotation already. With Mahle it could be the first time in a long time the Reds go into a season with no rotation questions and the potential for a Significant Rotation, this will allow them to address other issues elsewhere. THe incentive portion of the contract allows the Reds to reduce the risk of money spent without getting a result.
    For Wood: Every day this year that he spends on the IL the possibility and the value of a long term contract is dropping. With another season, at significantly better health, he will be able to provide more of a full season of results to increase his 2021 FA value. With the non insulting guaranteed portion of the deal, he is guaranteed not to ‘go broke’ should his body ‘go broke’ again.

    It is a low risk- high reward plan that should work for everyone.

    Just an idea

    • lwblogger2

      Depends on the $$ involved but that is some out-of-the-box thinking and exactly the kind of thing the Reds need to be thinking about. It’s stuff like you propose that a small-market team needs to roll the dice on.

  3. Curt

    Wood is the AJ Pollock of pitchers. Wise to probably not count on him for anything.
    Seemed he was always hurt in L.A. He’d be ok when he could pitch, (6 innings maybe before he’d give up a ding, dong and done) but aside from being a lefty not much of an upgrade over anything we’ve got.

    It be nice though to have a bona fide long relief guy though, be it Wood or whoever he might replace whenever he comes back.

  4. Brian

    I’m kinda tired that in every post revolving these players there’s the assumption that we need them to recoup value to sell in July. Screw that. We have like the 4th best run differential in the NL and we’re 5-12 in one run games. We’re gonna get hot soon, and we’re gonna challenge for the playoffs. Doug, you and the other writers need to get outta here with that noise :).

  5. BK

    There’s a lot of baseball to be played before this decision has to be made as Wood is likely a month plus away from joining the Reds. When the decision point arrives if we still have 6 quality options, Mahle will head to AAA until the trade deadline passes.

    • TMAC

      That’s the likely scenario, because Mahle still has options left.

  6. WVRedlegs

    Right now Wood as at square #1. He will have to go through the building up of innings which will go 2 innings, then wait 4 days. Pitch 3 innings and wait 4 days. 4 innings and wait 4 days. Then 5 innings and wait 4 days. It will take all 4 weeks of a rehab assignment once he does come back. So don’t expect Wood back for quite some time. Mid June is the earliest he would return at this point.
    What a bust that Dodgers trade has been. I was so hopeful about Wood but it just hasn’t worked out. $10MM for 1/2 a season is a steep price. Spend wisely or spend foolishly. The Reds front office, as usual, did not choose wisely. Again.

    • Reaganspad

      I still do that Dodgers trade for those players and what we gave up.

      I think the bigger deal is not having Don Long

      • ToBeDetermined

        Don Long really is a question that eventually should be asked and really Needs to Be Asked.
        But, we really won’t know that answer until at least this season plays out.

    • indydoug

      Little early to call it a bust. Puig will hit. He’s been stinging the ball lately.

  7. lost11found

    I am not going to wring hand about the pitcher moves they will make when Wood is healthy until he is healthy. Alot can happen between then and now.

    • Keith

      Agree. Who’s to say that all 5 current pitchers are still healthy when Wood is ready?

      • ToBeDetermined

        lost and Keith

        Exactly, that’s was it was so important to not go out and get 1 or 2 pitchers this winter. This shows the importance of getting 3. It’s so important to have pitching depth.

  8. Brian S Jolley

    My guess is they send Mahle to AAA until they can trade Wood or Roark. If Wood can establish himself as healthy and effective I think they trade him (catcher?) because he would have the most value. I would not be surprised at all if they flipped both of them. Next year they will have Castillo, Gray, Disco, Mahle plus one more (Santillian/Stephenson/trade/FA). Or they could always bring back Tim Adelman or Scott Feldman.

    • ToBeDetermined

      OH Brian
      I almost lost my lunch. “Or they could always bring back Tim Adelman or Scott Feldman.”

  9. Tom

    Is there any concern with Mahle or Castillo innings limits this year? If so, some starts before the trade deadline for Wood could work (if he’s healthy to do so).

    It would be good to be able to trade Wood and Roark before the deadline.

    • ToBeDetermined


      personally I would doubt it. Especially, since these guys will only average 5 to 6 innings a start.

  10. Scott C

    There are a lot of positives so far in this young season, the starting rotation being just one. So it is a great problem to have that in order for Wood to pitch we have to make room. I believe that in time that will sort itself out. The trade with the Dodgers however is not one of them, so far the best part of that trade has been Farmer a versatile player on defense and a bench bat with some pop. I certainly hope that Puig will get hot and start hitting. Votto as well. Perhaps getting Scooter back will propel the offense in the right direction. I do not however see this team vying for a playoff spot. We still have a lot of games left in the division which are all tough matchups I would like to see us beat up on the Cubs, Brewers, Pirates and Cards before I would start looking at playoffs.

  11. Amarillo

    Jeff Brantley was saying it would be a full month after he starts throwing. If the timetable right now is 2 weeks and there aren’t any more setbacks, we are 6 weeks away. That’s a long time before we actually need to make a decision. I might put Mahle in the bullpen. Last season it looked like he just got tired mid season and I think it’s more important for his development to be pitching against Major League hitters than starting against AAA hitters.

    • David

      And that’s with no “setbacks”. Back injuries are tough to predict.

      Prediction: Alex Wood will not pitch much at all, if any, for the Reds this year.

      • ToBeDetermined


        I will not take the other side of that bet.

  12. WVRedlegs

    The Reds have 3 decisions to make on 3 starters. Luckliy they have plenty of time to hash out those decisions. Roark and Wood to be free agents after the 2019 season and DeSclafani after the 2020 season.
    At first when the Reds acquired Wood, I thought Wood would be the logical one to seek an extension with being a commodity the Reds lacked. A LH starting pitcher. But his back has torpedoed that thought, to go along with a risky injury history. Roark is starting to pitch well now, well but not great. And his age might prohibit much of an extension. He turns 33 after the season so you’d be signing him for his age 33, age 34 and possibly age 35 seasons. However, Roark does have dependability and health working for him on his side. He has 30+ starts each year since 2014. The 2015 season is the only exception, but he had 12 starts and 28 relief appearances. Two years probably would be better from the Reds perspective, but would that be something would Roark look at as a first time free agent? Would Roark be looking for something more in the free agent market if he continues to pitch well. Roark is making $10MM this year, as is Wood and Sonny Gray. Roark would probably look for a Sonny Gray type extension, 3 years at $31MM, or about $10.3MM per year.
    Then there is DeSclafani. He is making $2.2MM this year and will have his last year of arbitration for the 2020 season. No rush for signing DeSclafani, but DeSclafani has to establish a good stretch of health. He has started to pitch well also. I wouldn’t want to go into the 2020 Opening Day with DeSclafani working on the last year of team control. If he goes through a couple more months of being productive and healthy, he might be the one to talk extension to this year. His $2.2MM salary is a good starting point for a very affordable extension, one that takes up his final arbitration year and 2-3 seasons of his free agent years. To do that the Reds have to wait it out some more in 2019 to see if his arm health is holding up.
    So with Wood, there is tremendous risk health-wise to an extension. Age-wise not so much as he would be entering his age 30 season in 2020. Dollar-wise it might be in the year and amount neighborhood as is Sonny Gray’s extension. But the longer he is out the lower that will go. An extension would be a high risk.
    With Roark, he has dependability and a healthy track record on his side. The risk is in his age as he is looking at his age 33, 34 and 35 seasons over the next 3 years. The risk here is medium to high for an extension. You could be signing a guy at a veteran starter #3 salary only to then get a long reliever if a declines sets in quickly.
    With DeSclafani, there is a high risk with the health of his arm. But he is establishing a good track record since coming back last season. Performance-wise there has been some hiccups, but health-wise he seems fine. He also seems to be coming back into his own. There will always be risk with DeSclafani health-wise because of his past 3 year history. But he seems to getting stronger and is pitching better. He is putting the injuries farther back in his rear view mirror. The risk is diminishing with him on that front, but it will always be there though. The extension money would be more affordable too with DeSclafani as he is making 1/4 of what Wood and Roark now are. And DeSclafani is the youngest of the 3. For an extension, it seems like DeSclafani checks more boxes than the other 2 do.
    It would be nice for the Reds to go into next spring with the rotation already anchored by 3 starters. Castillo is one, though an extension for him would be great to get out of the way early, sometime this year. Gray is locked in. Even though DeSclafani would be in his last year of team control in 2020, it wouldn’t be ideal entering that season as a lame duck year. The Reds should have to pick one from Wood, Roark and DeSclafani to extend before this season is over. Saving that to do over the winter to adds to the to-do list next off-season.
    The Reds have time to wait for making a decision, but shouldn’t wait too long. By the all-star break they should decide which one of those 3 are in their long term plans. If they decide to let Wood and Roark walk as free agents then they have a little time to work a trade before the deadline, or let them walk for nothing in return after the season.
    At this time, that probably favors DeSclafani. Then the Reds can turn their attention to what they are going to do about Scooter and Puig. Getting a RF might be priority #1 this off-season if they Puig and his .196 batting average walk.
    I didn’t mean to get so long-winded on this.

    • ToBeDetermined

      I’m sure you make some great points. But, I had to go grab a snack between the beginning and ending of your post. Maybe you can break those into manageable bite sized pieces. Just a suggestion.

    • Brian S Jolley

      I agree that Disco is the only one of the three they would consider extending. I don’t see the other two being here past the trade deadline, much less next year.

  13. David

    Alex Wood will pitch few if any innings for the Reds this year.

    I wouldn’t count on him at all.

    And yes, the Dodger trade has been pretty much of a bust.

    The best thing to come out of it was Kyle Farmer, a career utility player. I wouldn’t count on Puig really getting any better. Why? Because his “career” numbers say he will?

    • Lwblogger2

      That and his age suggests that he shouldn’t just flop this season. I think Puig will hit.

  14. Eddiek957

    I do not see how a trade that allowed us to move Bailey can be seen as a bust

    • WVRedlegs

      The Reds took on $42MM in salary with Kemp, Puig, Wood and Farmer for 2019. They got $7MM from the Dodgers to help. Net: $35MM additional salary.
      The Reds gave up Bailey’s $28MM owed to him. Net: -$7.0MM.
      The Reds also gave up millions and millions of $$$ in future value by trading their #8 and #12 prospects. Farmer will provide a few million $$ in future value that helps offset that a little.
      But yeah, it was a BIG bust. Reds got nowhere near in return to what they gave up.
      To date: Puig has provided -0.4 fWAR. Kemp provided -0.7 fWAR. Combined that is -1.1 fWAR. Wood has provided 0.0 fWAR. Farmer +0.3.
      Bailey has provided KC +0.7 fWAR. He has been the most productive and produced more value than any of the traded players.
      So yeah, it has been a BIG bust.
      NO, NO, NO on any extension talks with Puig. #PuigNotOurRF2020.

      • Hanawi

        And Josiah Gray, one of the prospects they gave up, was basically the only decent starter they had in the low minors. Has a 1.93 ERA right now.

      • ToBeDetermined

        We’ll see down the road, on this whole trade.

        Until Josiah Gray is pitching in the big leagues in an acceptable manner it doesn’t matter how good his ML #s are.

      • Old-school

        The reds fan base had lost all hope at the end of the 2018 season. The Reds took a calculated risk to improve 2019- relying on Puig and Wood to improve roster construction in a short term massive transfer of mostly sunk costs. It’s very possible the whole trade is much Ado about nothing- x for the loss of Gray. But, the Reds get some good picks a month from now.

      • ToBeDetermined


        “It’s very possible the whole trade is much Ado about nothing”
        I like that.

  15. Old-school

    It’s hard to see a scenario where Wood pitches for the Reds in a meaningful situation as he is 6 weeks out. The Reds are going to need to win the series against the Giants and then win the second half of May against the Cubs and Dodgers and Brewers and Pirates.

    I expect an offensive resurgence starting May 14 as the Reds have played only a handful of games at GABP in classic GAPB hitting friendly weather. Memorial day we will know a lot more.

  16. matthew hendley

    No plans…. all I see is complaints. THe trade is done. A notoriously poor April/May hitter is going pick it up shortly. The signs are already there with the rising exit velocity off the bat. Regardless, Wood will not be traded this year. Assuming 4-5 weeks for his return the amount of time that he would have to demonstrate his ability would not be enough to secure a return in a trade that would be equivalent to a return we could get for the so called ‘damaged goods’ I will stand by my incentive based 1y extension.
    Lineup has been published. The personnel look like the primary starting lineup probably going forward. The only difference tonight, is CF/RF. Puig in center and Senzel in Right. Probably due to Whateveritsnameisnow, fields dimensions.
    Shed Long has been called up to the Mariners. We will see if we won of the Gray Trade.