Wood wins arbitration case with Reds
Rule 5 Draft pick Joe working as catcher; House's arm in high demand on first day of workouts
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Reds left-hander Alex Wood won his arbitration case on Wednesday. Wood will earn $9.65 million on his one-year contract this season. Cincinnati had offered $8.7 million.
Wood, who was acquired from the Dodgers on Dec. 21 in a seven-player trade, was the only case the Reds had to go to arbitration this winter. The two sides presented their case on Tuesday in Tampa, Fla.
"It was fine. You hear horror stories about some of the things that go on," Wood said Wednesday morning before he learned the case outcome. "But it was very respectful and professional, and I appreciated that from the Reds yesterday. We understand it's a business, and that's the way it goes sometimes.":: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::
Wood was 9-7 with a 3.68 ERA and 1.21 WHIP in 33 games (including 27 starts) last season. He was a 2017 All-Star for Los Angeles and has a 3.29 ERA in 172 games (129 starts) over his six-year career.
"Obviously, I would have liked to not have to go to Tampa, especially being a new member of the Reds. It was just a difference of opinion," Wood said. "As a player, you try to be realistic about your expectations, especially in terms of salary. If you think you deserve something or it's the right thing to do, you have to be willing to accept the consequence of losing a case and the consequences if you win. I thought I was doing the right thing for me and the guys behind me. That's ultimately what it's all about."
Wood, 28, has been excited to get going with camp since his trade. He didn't wait for Tuesday's report date to arrive in Reds camp.
"I've been here since about Feb. 1. I started making the rounds and meeting everybody as they trickled in," Wood said. "It's been really great. The common thing I've come to understand is they've had a pretty good clubhouse the last two years with the group of guys. Everything I've seen and who I've met, it kind of backs that up."
Joe working to play catcher
Rule 5 Draft selection Connor Joe was originally selected as a catcher by the Pirates in the 2014 Draft, but he has never caught a game professionally because of injuries. Joe has played first base, third base and in the outfield, and he can play second base.
But at Reds spring camp, Joe is working with the catchers.
"We know he can do a lot of different things on the field. We'll get him prepared at all the different positions," Reds manager David Bell said. "But for now, the focus will be on catching. That's why he's here."
However, Bell said it was premature to determine whether or not the Reds would carry three catchers on their 25-man roster.
"It just depends on how the whole makeup of the roster shows up," Bell said. "I think that those [catchers] provide a nice security to have, but that third catcher would have to do a lot of other things."
Joe isn't the only player who can potentially be a catcher with a utility player skill set, as offseason acquisition Kyle Farmer could be in the same position. Acquired from the Dodgers in the same December trade that brought Yasiel Puig, Wood and Matt Kemp, Farmer can catch and play both corner infield spots.
Because he's a Rule 5 Draft pick, Joe must remain on the Reds' big league club all season or be offered back to the Dodgers for $50,000 after he clears outright waivers.
House's arm is in the house
During one of the workouts on Tuesday, Reds third-base and catching coach J.R. House was whipping fastballs -- sometimes at very close range -- to catching prospect Tyler Stephenson. House also fed baseballs to Stephenson from different angles, including side to side. The drill was designed to help expand catchers' field of vision when throws come their way from any direction.
House could be heard grunting when he made some throws. Later, he threw batting practice also.
"I told him to be careful," Bell said. "As a coach, it's great to be able to do those things. It's a way to connect. I was like, 'Take care of that thing," referring to House's arm.