As the deadline to offer arbitration deals to players came and went on Friday night, the Milwaukee Brewers opted to allow Brandon Woodruff to become a free agent. This is not shocking as he was expected to make about $11 million in 2024 through arbitration, however, he's recovering from shoulder surgery and is likely to miss most — if not all — of the 2024 season.
The Brewers seem to be cleaning house and don't appear willing to spend big money. Other clubs who are looking to make the playoffs next season will be eager to pounce at the opportunity to sign the former Brewers ace.
One of those clubs should be the Philadelphia Phillies. Even though he is unlikely to pitch much next season, the prospect of signing Woodruff as a 2025 option is intriguing. The right-hander has had a solid career to this point. Through seven seasons, he has a 3.10 ERA, a 1.05 WHIP, and has accumulated 788 strikeouts over 680 1/3 innings.
In 2021 Woodruff pitched 179 1/3 innings and in 2022 the starter pitched 153 1/3 innings. He has had some injury history which has limited innings in the past, but he has proven to be an effective pitcher when healthy. The former Brewer is a two-time All Star having been given the honor in 2019 and 2021.
If Woodruff had not been injured in 2023, he could have had another terrific season. Through 67 innings, he posted a 2.28 ERA, a 0.82 WHIP, and struck out 74 opposing hitters. The right-hander made just two starts in April before hitting the injured list with a shoulder injury. He came back to make nine starts in August and September but ultimately required offseason surgery for the injury.
Assuming he misses all of the 2024 season, some may wonder why the Phillies would sign a player who may not pitch. Well, the answer is that there's still a great deal of value in Woodruff. He'll likely sign a short-term, two-to-three-year deal and won't make as much money as he would have given that he'll miss time.
The Phillies should look to sign him in hopes that he is healthy at the end of the 2024 campaign and for the full 2025 season. He is a valuable pitcher who was supposed to hit the free agent market after next season. He will want to sign a deal to prove he can stay healthy and pitch effectively so that he can sign a larger, more lucrative deal after his comeback.