Cincinnati Reds: Alex Wood should be traded before his 2019 debut

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 10: Alex Wood #57 of the Los Angeles Dodgers throws a pitch in the second inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Dodger Stadium on June 10, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 10: Alex Wood #57 of the Los Angeles Dodgers throws a pitch in the second inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Dodger Stadium on June 10, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images) /

Starting pitching has not been the problem for the Cincinnati Reds this season. The team should consider trading Alex Wood before he debuts in 2019.

The Cincinnati Reds traded away Homer Bailey and two top prospects to the Los Angeles Dodgers last December. In return, the Reds received outfielders Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp, pitcher Alex Wood, and utility player Kyle Farmer. While Wood has yet to pitch in 2019, it may be in the Reds best interest to trade the left-hander before he takes the mound for Cincinnati.

Let me preface this by saying that the Reds should not just give Wood away for a low-level prospect. However, if Cincinnati is able to secure the services of a highly-skilled young talent, the front office should definitely entertain the idea of trading Alex Wood.

Starting pitching has not been the Achilles heel for this year’s Reds team. Cincinnati’s pitching as a whole ranks second in the National League, behind only the Dodgers, in ERA (3.58). The Reds have allowed the fewest home runs (69) in the NL despite playing half their games at the bandbox that is Great American Ball Park.

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With Luis Castillo leading the way, the Reds’ starting rotation seems pretty well set. Though both Anthony DeSclafani (4.43) and Tyler Mahle (4.21) own an ERA above 4.00, both right-handers have pitched well enough over their last several starts that their standing in the rotation should not be in jeopardy.

DeSclafani has gone 16.1 innings in his last 3 starts and has struck out 12 batters while only walking 4. Disco also has a 2.76 ERA in those 3 games. Outside of a struggle against the Chicago Cubs on a windy day at Wrigley Field, Mahle has also pitched well of late.

Tanner Roark, also on a one-year deal, has been a pleasant surprise to many fans. Roark has slid into the No. 3 starter’s role quite comfortably and David Bell can usually count on the right-hander for 5-6 innings of work every fifth day.

Sonny Gray seems to be getting more and more comfortable each time he goes out. Gray may not have the win totals that he deserves this season, but with a 3.65 ERA and 71 strikeouts in 13 starts, he’s showing he was worth what the Reds gave up this past winter in order to wrestle the right-hander away from the New York Yankees.

The case of bringing Wood into the rotation is a curious one. If he were signed beyond the 2019 season, bringing Wood into the rotation would be a no-brainer. However, the fact that he’s in a contract-year brings a bit of intrigue to the table.

A trade scenario involving Alex Wood was always on the table. Had he been healthy to begin the 2019 season and entered the rotation as the No. 2 or No. 3 starter, his name would still be talked about as a potential trade chip due to his impending free agency this offseason. The same is true for Yasiel Puig.

Speaking of Puig, his lack of production this season is the reason I’d advocate for the Cincinnati Reds to move on from Alex Wood before he has a chance to show cracks in his game. Last season, Wood saw his ERA rise from 2.72  to 3.68 and found his way into the Dodgers bullpen for the final month of the season.

Alex Wood isn’t the only member of the Reds looking to return to action very soon. Scooter Gennett is likely to rejoin the squad in the next couple of weeks and he, like Wood, is in the final year of his deal.

While the idea of trading Gennett before he makes his 2019 debut is an interesting one, Scooter brings this Reds team exactly what it needs; a reliable bat. Gennett was in the hunt for the NL batting title last season and if there’s one thing this team needs, it’s hitting.

With Wood also experiencing a few setbacks during his rehab, there’s no guarantee that he doesn’t make a couple appearances and re-aggravate the back injury that has kept him out of action all season. Back injuries are tricky, and you never know when it may reemerge as a problem.

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While Reds fans would love to see the left-hander and give them solid contributions as a starter, the question has to be asked; is Alex Wood going to be the difference in the Cincinnati Reds being contenders for a spot in the postseason this year? At this time, the hitting, not the pitching is the problem, and I’d sell high on Wood if a team gave the Reds’ front office a call.