Versatile left-hander will compete for rotation spot, after full season in 'pen
By Jeffrey Flanagan
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- A Royals rotation that seemed decimated after the tragic death of Yordano Ventura last month suddenly looks deep and talented.
The recent signings of right-hander Jason Hammel and left-hander Travis Wood gives general manager Dayton Moore the type of depth he always covets this time of year.
Wood's signing became official on Wednesday. He now will go to work competing for the fifth spot in the rotation, along with right-handers Nathan Karns and Chris Young.
"As you know, you're always going to need as many arms as you can get," Moore said. "We feel we're getting close to that depth."
The Royals had been in contact with Wood's agents most of the winter. Talks heated up after Ventura's death and after the signing of Hammel.
Still, Moore needed approval from ownership to add to a payroll that had been trimmed, under an ownership mandate, to about $135 million before the signings of Brandon Moss and Hammel.
Wood, a source told MLB.com, will make $4 million in 2017, $6.5 million in 2018 with an $8 million mutual option for 2019 (with a $1.5 million buyout). Wood also could max out with $1 million of performance bonuses each year of the deal.
The Royals' payroll now could exceed last year's franchise record of $145 million.
"Let me just say that the Glass family has always been very supportive of what we need to do," Moore said.
The Wood signing could give the Royals three left-handers in the rotation -- Danny Duffy and Jason Vargas are the others.
The opportunity to start was crucial for Wood.
"It had a lot to do with signing here," Wood said. "I wanted to try to get back to starting. They're going to give me an opportunity to do that."
Wood, 30, primarily was a starter the first five years of his career with the Reds and Cubs. He transitioned to the bullpen in 2015 and last season made a career-high 77 appearances with a 2.95 ERA en route to a World Series title with Chicago.
"It's not that difficult to go back and forth from the bullpen to starting," Wood said. "I'll do whatever they want me to do. But I would like the chance to start, and I'll get that here."
Before he signed, Wood spoke with former Cubs manager Dale Sveum, now the Royals hitting coach, about the club's environment.
"I had a previous relationship with Dale," Wood said. "He had great things to say. I got along with him great. I liked what he stood for. He was a ballplayer."
Wood also said the Royals' championship experience influenced his decision.
"I've heard nothing but good things about this team and organization," Wood said. "I can already tell this was the right choice."
Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.