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  • A Short-Term Extension for Brandon Woodruff Could Be A Win-Win

    Jason Wang

    Brandon Woodruff was one of the Brewers’ best players in 2023 and has been an integral piece of the pitching staff since his first full season as a starter in 2019. Given his current injury status and contract situation, could we see Woodruff sign on for another year in 2025?

    Image courtesy of © Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

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    Brandon Woodruff will be arbitration-eligible in 2024 and a free agent at the end of that season. Assuming he’ll miss most of 2024, he won’t really have much firepower to use in fetching a higher salary in the arbitration process. Furthermore, he’ll hit the free-agent market with few (if any) innings pitched, which will likely lead teams to question whether his stuff is still there and whether he’ll be an injury risk in the future.

    This is where the Brewers front office can shine. Having served as his home for the entirety of his professional career, Milwaukee has the benefit of having the most information on Woodruff as a pitcher, player, and person. Because of this (and the fact that they’ll be the most in tune with his recovery process), a mutually beneficial course of action could be to sign Woodruff to a two-year contract that extends the Brewers' team control through 2025. This accomplishes two main goals.

    Gives Woodruff an Extra Year to Get Back in the Game
    Woodruff is a power pitcher. He’s not a crafty pitch-to-contact guy like Wade Miley or Jordan Montgomery, who can get away with lower velocity and strikeout numbers. Woodruff has a 95.8-MPH four-seam fastball and a 95.0-MPH sinker, each of which pair nicely with an 85.8-MPH changeup and some red wine. He's averaged 10.4 strikeouts per nine innings over the course of his career and has fanned as many as 211 batters in a season. Thus, it’s important that he is able to prove to other teams that post-surgery, he hasn’t lost his ability to produce the same velocity. 

    Signing a short-term deal would give him a full season of healthy pitching, and then throw him back into the free-agent market prior to the 2026 season with plenty of recent data to prove that he is still the same guy he’s always been.

    Gives The Brewers an Extra Year of Brandon Woodruff
    This really speaks for itself. Having one of the best pitchers in baseball in your starting rotation is a blessing and a privilege. Not only would this decision give Milwaukee an extra year of Woodruff, there’s even a chance that it could help sway Woodruff into returning to the Brewers again, this time signing a longer-term contract as a reflection of the good faith shown to him. Maybe he ends up as a career Brewer--one of the franchise greats.

    Additionally, the Brewers deciding to pay Woodruff something well south of the projected $11 million he was going to get prior to the to injury would keep payroll relatively low for 2024. The team could then pay him a higher sum in 2025 to compensate, allowing them more flexibility in roster construction.

    Corbin Burnes is on the same contract timeline (arb-eligible in 2024, free agent thereafter) and there are already questions about whether he’ll be willing to stay or if the team will even be willing to extend him. Keeping Woodruff would undoubtedly soften the blow of losing Burnes and prevent Milwaukee from heading into complete rebuild mode. 

    Both parties are in a unique situation, given Woodruff’s surgery, and who knows what’s really on the mind of team management? Much of this depends on how quickly he'll be able to return to action at the major-league level and how much faith he has in himself. Nonetheless, there is hope that we'll continue to see him in Brew Crew blue for at least a few more years.

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    This is not a good idea. To begin with the Brewers are a small market team and they need to spend money on players they can count on to play immediately. Teams like the Dodgers, Yankees, Cubs, Red Sox, Mets, Astros, Rangers, and even the Blue Jays, Giants, Angels and Padres have the financial resources to pay an injured player to not play significant time. The Brewers have to scrimp and save every dollar to just put together a competitive team each year and cannot afford the luxury to spend millions on a player who isn’t a sure thing to play at the very least one year and most probably two years at a diminished level.  Attanasio has shown throughout his ownership that he is definitely not that type of owner (Fielder, Hader) to sign  long term contracts or when he does (Yelich) he got burned. You are also assuming Woodruff would agree to a hometown discount and play for significantly less money, especially pre- free agency. 

    Shoulder injuries are typically a career ender for most pitchers or at the very least a significant drop off in effectiveness. This is especially true of Woodruff, as you’ve pointed out, a pitcher who counts on his velocity significantly. Shoulder injuries are known for decreasing velocity which was demonstrated in his last start this year. For the Brewer to outlay that kind of money with their lack of financial resources would be beyond foolish. Another thing to consider his age. At over 30 years old he is probably on the downside of his career and an improvement to his lifetime stats is wishful thinking with this type of injury.

    Small market teams futures should be focused on youth and unfortunately investing large sums of money on injured players with a poor prognosis is not realistic for the ballclub in Milwaukee.


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    3 hours ago, rickh150 said:

    Gamble….big gamble with shoulder

    It's a gamble, but it's becoming less of one with this type of injury. And you're not talking about some 5/110M type deal, it's a 2/25M deal. 

    I think that's worth the risk. Kendricks from the Cubs just had this...I think Urias had this done. 

    In fact, this is becoming an increasingly successful surgery with a relatively new technique and while the sample size is limited, most pitchers come back to 100%. 

    This is related to the type of surgery Woodruff is having. I'm not sure this injury is as big of a threat as is being suggested. ALL shoulder injuries can't just get lumped in. 


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    On 10/23/2023 at 10:17 AM, Sixtolezcano said:

    Shoulder injuries are typically a career ender for most pitchers

    That is a grossly overly simplistic statement.

    A rotator cuff, a torn labrum, a capsular repair, they're not all one in the same. There is a WIDE range of injuries with vastly different outcomes.

    In addition to what I just laid out, this is sniped from the newer, more innovative technique to repair this very type of injury that is less than 10 years old. 

    9 month recovery time. He should be fine. This is not "typically a career ender." This is not Jimmy Nelson's surgery or injury.


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