CINCINNATI -- During his time with the Dodgers, starting pitcher Alex Wood experienced the postseason quite a bit, including World Series runs the past two seasons. But with that also came some fluidity to his role. Wood finished the 2018 regular season and postseason working out of the bullpen.
Now that Wood is a member of the Reds after being acquired from the Dodgers on Friday in a blockbuster seven-player trade, he will immediately become key to their reworked rotation.
"I took solace in that for sure," Wood said. "It's been a blessing for me, for my whole career, that I've pretty much won the division five out of six full years I've been in the big leagues. With that comes a lot of competition, a lot of good other starters and arms that I've kind of battled with over the years."
Wood, who turns 28 next month, was traded along with outfielders Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp, catcher James Farmer and $7 million cash for pitcher Homer Bailey and prospects Jeter Downs and Josiah Gray. Bailey, who waived his 10-and-5 no-trade rights, was released by the Dodgers immediately as a stipulation for his approval.
In a span of two weeks, the Reds' rotation has improved with Wood and Tanner Roark, who was acquired from the Nationals on Dec. 12 during the Winter Meetings.
"I think we've got two really solid pieces in guys who are still awfully good, and they have room to get better," new Reds pitching coach Derek Johnson said.
A 2017 All-Star, Wood went 9-7 with a 3.68 ERA and 1.21 WHIP in 33 games, including 27 starts, last season. His primary pitch is a sinker, which was used 43 percent of the time, according to Statcast™. Wood also throws a changeup and curveball. He largely threw from the stretch throughout '18, but he plans to reintroduce the windup to his starts.
In 2017, Wood finished 16-3 with a 2.72 ERA and 1.06 WHIP in 27 outings (25 starts). He has a 3.29 ERA in 172 appearances (129 starts) over his six-year career.
"He throws with the wrong hand, which is awesome," Johnson joked, referring to Wood being left-handed. "You can't have too many of those guys."
Wood and Roark will likely join holdovers Luis Castillo and Anthony DeSclafani in Cincinnati's starting five. But with president of baseball operations Dick Williams noting he wasn't done making moves, there could be another starter added at some point as the club badly wants to shed its rebuild status and become a factor in the National League Central.
Where does Johnson envision Wood's spot in the rotation being?
"It probably is a little bit early, but I think he has status to be a top-end guy," Johnson said. "There's no reason why he can't fit at the top. Certainly, he's already pitched in the middle-to-the top end for a really good staff. I see him fitting in that role. I think the bottom line when looking at five guys that make up a rotation, you're just trying to get to a point where they're pitching as many innings as they possibly can."
A second-round pick of the Braves in the 2012 Draft out of the University of Georgia, Wood was part of a massive deal that sent him to the Dodgers before the '15 non-waiver Trade Deadline. He has never worked with or met Johnson, who was with the Brewers for three seasons and also had a lengthy tenure at Vanderbilt University.
"I've been around some Vandy guys and I have never heard a bad word about him," Wood said. "Obviously, I know the work that he did in Milwaukee with their guys. I'm excited to get started and get to work."
Wood made $6 million last year, is arbitration eligible for a third and final time and can be a free agent after the 2019 season. Wood noted he did not have many connections on the Reds, but he was pleased to be coming to Cincinnati with familiar faces. Farmer was his college teammate and a groomsman in his wedding. Puig and Kemp are both All-Stars.
"I know what they all bring to the table," Wood said. "They're all winners and they want to win. Having that as a foundation for a player to take that to a new team and clubhouse is important. I'm really excited for us to come and contribute and help us win some ballgames."