Should the Chicago Cubs trade Travis Wood this off-season?


Things can change quickly in a one-year span. If you don’t believe that, ask Travis Wood.

The former Cincinnati Reds lefty touched the sky in 2013 as he made the All-Star Team and was the Cubs’ best pitcher throughout the entire season. His numbers were all career-highs for him – 3.11 ERA, 32 starts, 200 IP and 0.8 HR/9 – and he was even mentioned as a possible member of the future ‘core’, so everybody expected him to take another step forward in his development.

Instead, Wood’s form was much worse than what he showed in 2013, and some even said he came back to earth with his pedestrian 2014 campaign. A 5.03 ERA (31 starts), a 1.532 WHIP and a 3.9 BB/9 meant new career-lows in several categories and several fans were already calling for the Cubs to cut ties with him during this offseason.

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He’ll likely still be part of the organization once Spring Training starts, but there’s no question that Wood’s spot in Chicago’s rotation is in jeopardy. The arrivals of both Jon Lester and Jason Hammel, the breakthrough of Jake Arrieta and the emergence of Kyle Hendricks leaves only one spot up for grabs in the starting rotation, and he will have some competition as the likes of Edwin Jackson, Eric Jokisch, Dallas Beeler, Jacob Turner and Tsuyoshi Wada are all on the 40-man roster and could challenge him for the fifth spot.

Wood’s “true” numbers might be somewhere in between what he showed in 2013 and 2014. He’s clearly not a 200 IP and 3.00 ERA pitcher but he’s also not one that puts up a 5.00+ ERA. He appears to be a middle of the rotation arm that could put an ERA in the 4.00 range, he throws strikes and he’s left-handed. Those are all traits that could be useful and one has to wonder if he would be more valuable as a fifth starter or as possible trade bait.

Several teams are looking to upgrade their rotations, and while Wood might not bring a lot of value, he could be quite appealing on a package with someone like Welington Castillo. He has a decent track record and he was an All-Star only two years ago. He could be bundled in a package but if the Cubs are unable to find a taker for his services, he could be quite useful as a fifth starter is he’s able to return to his pre-2014 form.

Based on the peripherals, that’s not entirely out of the question.

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