If there’s one thing I’ve seen about a thousand times over the past year, it has been this:
“The Pirates should trade for Brandon Wood.”
The idea usually gets brought up when talking about how the Los Angeles Angels aren’t using the former top prospect, and only increased this off-season with Wood out of options. Yesterday, the Angels designated Wood for assignment, which gives them ten days to trade, waive, or release him. If he’s placed on waivers, the Pittsburgh Pirates will have priority, since they own the first overall waiver pick until April 30th.
There is some appeal with Wood. He was the number 16 prospect in baseball prior to the 2008 season, falling from number eight in 2007, and number three in 2006. In his limited time in the majors he’s displayed some good defense at third, and while he has the ability to play shortstop, his defensive numbers there haven’t been good, with a career -26.0 UZR/150, which is based on a small sample size.
The call for Brandon Wood is mostly out of desperation over the shortstop position. So far, Wood has played at a pace that would make him a downgrade over Ronny Cedeno. In 494 plate appearances, he has a .168/.197/.259 line with 11 homers. Cedeno isn’t hitting much better so far this season, but he does have a career .243/.282/.352 line, and while he hasn’t been strong defensively, he does have a -4.1 UZR/150 in his career.
There is an argument to be made for claiming Wood. He’s 26 years old, and has never really had regular playing time, so it would be interesting to see what he could do. He would basically take the place of Josh Rodriguez on the 25-man roster, and would be in a similar circumstance, since he is out of options, and would have to be on the roster all season.
As a bench player, I wouldn’t mind seeing what Wood could do. Maybe a change in scenery could do him well. However, I wouldn’t throw him in to the starting role at shortstop. Aside from his poor batting line, he’s been completely overmatched at the plate, striking out 33% of the time in his career, and walking 2.6% of the time. I wouldn’t mind seeing the Pirates claim him, but unless the “change in scenery” idea proves to work, I don’t think he should be starting anywhere on the field.
As for whether the Pirates will take a chance on him, I’d be very surprised if they pass on him. They’ve taken chances on every former top prospect that has fallen in their lap. Those deals came through trades (Lastings Milledge), free agency (Andy Marte), or waiver claims (Sean Gallagher). The results haven’t worked out, but claiming Wood is free, and taking a free shot at a guy who used to be considered one of the best young players in baseball is something the Pirates should always consider.
UPDATE 12:38 AM: Bob Nightengale provides this update via Twitter:
There is zero chance of Brandon Wood clearing waivers. The Pirates and others are all over him.
I guess the question would then be, will Brandon Wood even make it to waivers? If he does, it looks like he will be a Pirate.