The Cincinnati Reds made their first signing of the offseason by signing Blake Wood, a right handed pitcher who spent the entire 2015 season in the minor leagues with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He was signed to a Major League deal and is out of options. He will be 30-years-old for the 2016 season.
Wood has spent parts of four seasons in the big leagues. In both 2010 and 2011 he spent a majority of the year with the Kansas City Royals. He threw 49.2 innings in 2010 and 69.2 in 2011. In 2013 and 2014 he threw just 1.1 innings and 6.1 innings in the big leagues, both years with the Indians.
In his big league time he’s struggled with his control, walking 4.5 batters per 9 innings pitched. In 2011 he struck out 8.0 batters per 9 innings, the best of his two seasons with actual playing time in the big leagues.
Last season was spent all at the Triple-A level with the Indianapolis Indians. He threw 58.2 innings with a 3.53 ERA, allowing just two home runs and 52 hits. He walked 25 batters (3.8 per 9IP) and struck out 70 batters (10.7 per 9IP). The strikeout rate was very strong, but his walk rate was still higher than you’d like to see.
So, why did the Reds sign a minor league pitchers to a Major League deal? Well, he’s got one heck of an arm. Let’s take a quick look at his scouting report.
Fastball | The pitch works in the 94-97 MPH range while being able to touch 100 every now and again and has some armside run to it. He can also get a little bit of sinking action on the pitch.
Slider | This pitch is an average offering in the low 80’s. He mostly uses it against right handed hitters, though will sneak it in to lefties at times.
Splitter | His go-to pitch to try and put left handers away. It can be a quality pitch and one he mostly uses only against lefties.
In a season like the Reds are likely to have in 2016, grabbing a big time power arm is worth the risk, even if it meant handing out a big league contract. He’s got some control issues that he will need to improve upon, but arms like his don’t grow on trees and the Reds should be trying to add as much talent as possible. This is a very low-risk, but possible high-reward kind of signing.