Left-hander Alex Wood and the Oakland Athletics are reportedly in agreement on a contract, per Robert Murray of FanSided. Details of the deal, which Murray adds is pending a physical, are not yet known.
Wood, who celebrated his 33rd birthday earlier this month, will remain in the Bay Area for Athletics’ final season in Oakland after spending the past three seasons as a member of the Giants. A second-round pick by Altanta during the 2012 draft, spent the first several years of his career as a quality mid-rotation arm for the Braves and Giants with a 3.29 ERA (117 ERA+) and 3.36 FIP across 803 1/3 innings of work from 2013 to 2018. Things took a turn for the worst for Wood after he was traded to the Reds as part of a multi-player blockbuster that also sent Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp to Cincinnati. The lefty managed just 16 appearances between the 2019 and 2020 seasons and struggled to a 5.96 ERA and 6.02 FIP across the 48 1/3 innings he was able to muster during that time.
That pair of injury-marred campaigns didn’t stop the Giants from taking a chance on Wood, however, and they were rewarded for that decision almost immediately. The lefty made 26 starts for San Francisco in 2021, pitching to a 3.83 ERA with a 3.48 FIP in 138 2/3 innings of work as the Giants stormed to a 107-win season and their first division title since 2012. The club rewarded Wood with a two-year, $25MM contract that offseason, though his second contract in San Francisco was nowhere near as successful as the first.
Wood struggled to a 5.10 ERA in 26 starts with the Giants in 2022 despite peripheral numbers that indicated a much stronger performance, including a career-best 5.4% walk rate paired with solid strikeout and grounder rates. Those struggles led the club to use Wood as a hybrid starter and bulk reliever in 2023. The veteran southpaw recorded more than 12 outs just three times after the month of June last year but struggled in the swing role with a middling 4.33 ERA to go with a 4.47 FIP. Unlike 2022, Wood’s peripherals backed up the lackluster results in 2023 as his walk rate ballooned to 9.8% while his strikeout rate dipped to just 17.2%.
Despite his struggles over the past two seasons, the addition of Wood could be a significant boost for an A’s club that lost 112 games last year thanks in part to a rotation that finished 2023 with a collective ERA of 5.74, worst among major league clubs that do not call Coors Field home. Even Wood’s diminished production of a 4.77 ERA and 4.07 FIP over the past two seasons would be a notable improvement over that figure, and if he recaptures the mid-rotation form he flashed earlier in his career Wood could be a valuable piece for the A’s to flip at the deadline as they continue their rebuild. In the meantime, Wood figures to join JP Sears and Paul Blackburn in the Oakland rotation with the likes of Luis Medina, Joe Boyle, and Joey Estes among the possibilities to round out the club’s starting five.
The deal for Wood takes another starting-caliber arm off of the market for clubs in search of pitching help. Teams in search of starting options can still look to Blake Snell and Jordan Montgomery in terms of impact options, but the lower levels of free agency have begun to dwindle with arms like Michael Lorenzen and Hyun Jin Ryu representing some of the next-best options remaining after the top-of-the-market southpaws. As for the A’s, the club has previously indicated they expect to increase payroll over their 2023 figure. Pending the terms of Wood’s deal with the club, RosterResource projects the club for a microscopic $41MM payroll as things stand in 2024, $17MM below where they stood last year. That should leave room for the club to target further rotation additions or perhaps help at shortstop in the run-up to Spring Training next month, though they remain unlikely to shop in the higher tiers of free agency.