Alex Wood has split his first two seasons between the Braves’ bullpen and rotation, making 18 starts and 31 relief appearances. And he’s been very good, posting a 3.26 ERA and 140 strikeouts in 138 innings overall.
Which is why today’s move to demote him to Triple-A looks surprising, but Mark Bowman of MLB.com writes that it’s likely being done as part of a plan to stretch the 23-year-old left-hander out to return to Atlanta as a full-time starter.
Wood hasn’t started a game since May 4 and has thrown more than 40 pitches just once during that bullpen-only period, and the Braves decided this was the easiest way to get him ready to throw 90-100 pitches on a regular basis again.
In a corresponding move the Braves activated reliever Jordan Walden from the disabled list, where he spent a month with a strained hamstring.
Infielder Brett Lawrie successfully avoided arbitration and signed a one-year contract with the White Sox on Friday, per a team announcement. FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman added that the deal was for $3.5 million, significantly lower than the $4.125 million Lawrie was paid by the White Sox in 2016.
The White Sox acquired Lawrie last December in a swap for minor league arms Zack Erwin and J.B. Wendelken. After splitting time at second and third base for the Athletics in 2015, Lawrie slotted in at second base and DH for the White Sox and batted .248/.310/.413 with 12 home runs in 384 PA. While it’s strange to see a healthy, fairly productive player receive a salary reduction in arbitration, Lawrie missed nearly half of the season with a strain in his left hamstring, though he’s projected to return at full health by the start of the 2017 season.
Left-hander Brian Duensing signed a one-year, $2 million contract with the Cubs on Friday, per a report from FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman.
The free agent spent the bulk of his 2016 season with the Orioles after receiving a call-up from Triple-A Norfolk in early June. He underwent elbow surgery several weeks later when a freak bullpen injury revealed cartilage chips and inflammation in his pitching elbow, but recovered to finish the season with a 4.05 ERA and 10 strikeouts in 13 1/3 innings for the club. The Orioles utilized him for a final out during the AL Wild Card game, during which Duensing recorded a five-pitch strikeout in the ninth inning of their 5-2 loss to the Blue Jays.
The 33-year-old is currently expected to bulk up the Cubs’ left-handed relief corps, with fellow left-hander Mike Montgomery slated for the rotation in 2017.