UPDATE: Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago reports that the deal is “close” and that the Cubs would receive two minor-leaguers along with Wood.
10:29 PM ET: The Reds landed Mat Latos in a blockbuster deal over the weekend, but they aren’t done on the trade front.
Ken Rosenthal on FOXSports.com reports that they are currently discussing a deal with the Cubs for left-hander Sean Marshall. Chicago is said to be eyeing left-hander Travis Wood, a pitcher who intrigued team president Theo Epstein when he was general manager of the Red Sox last season. It’s not known what other players might be in the deal.
Marshall has emerged as one of the best relievers in the game over the past two seasons, posting a quality 2.45 ERA and 169/42 K/BB ratio over 150 1/3 innings while handling righties and lefties with nearly equal aplomb. The 29-year-old left-hander is due $3.1 million next season before hitting free agency.
Wood had a disappointing 4.84 ERA in 18 starts and four relief appearances at the major league level this past season, but showed plenty of promise when he posted a 3.51 ERA and 86/26 K/BB ratio over 102 2/3 innings as a rookie in 2010. The 24-year-old southpaw doesn’t throw all that hard and profiles as a fly ball pitcher, but this is a pretty good time to attempt to buy low.
The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.
In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.
The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.
Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”
It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.
It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.