2-time All-Star Brandon Woodruff was non-tendered by the Brewers. Should the Cubs be looking to make a move to bring him to Chicago?
Every year there is generally one to two guys who are non-tendered that stand out above the rest. This year was no different:
Milwaukee Brewers right-hander Brandon Woodruff has been nontendered, sources tell ESPN. The two-time All-Star, who underwent shoulder surgery and is expected to miss the 2024 season, was scheduled to make around $11 million in arbitration. He will be a free agent.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) November 18, 2023
Since making his debut in 2017, Brandon Woodruff has been one of the best pitchers in the NL. He has a career ERA of 3.10, a FIP of 3.19, a career K% hovering right around 30%, and many great peripherals and indicators on his baseball savant page. This has earned him two all-star appearances and a top 5 finish in the Cy Young voting in 2021. His big issue has always been injuries. In his five full seasons as a big league starter, he has made a full slate of starts just two times, one being the shortened Covid 2020 season.
Yet another injury had to play a huge reason in his being non-tendered by the Brewers. In October, he had surgery to repair the anterior capsule in his right shoulder. Due to that, he could very well miss all of 2024, but at least a good majority for certain. For a small market team like Milwaukee, paying a guy for no production for a season is something they can’t afford. Therefore, he is now a free agent.
So the Cubs and Brandon Woodruff, why does it make so much sense? For one, the team has a lot of pitching depth, but not many frontline types. Justin Steele and Cade Horton would qualify, but you can’t lock in Horton just yet as he hasn’t even thrown a Triple A inning yet. If he would come back and be his past self, he would be an ace type of addition on what would more than likely be a bargain of a contract.
Secondly, the Cubs have experience on how to help guys recover and become their best selves again after having anterior capsule surgery. Just a couple of years ago, Kyle Hendricks went through the same ordeal and has come back and regained a step from the guy we saw the two seasons prior. The fact the Cubs have shown this ability is something that Woodruff could find very appealing.
Lastly, the relationship between Craig Counsell and Brandon Woodruff could certainly sway his decision. After taking the Cubs job, Woodruff had a lot of great things to say about Counsell from his time as his manager to the friendship they had built over the years. He could want to follow his manager to Chicago and continue their journey together. Having someone you know and trust with you when going through all the rehab and training to get back on the field could be very comforting.
So what would a contract for Brandon Woodruff look like? It would more than likely be an incentive based two year deal so he could spend most of not all his first season with the team rehabbing. The team is at a point where they shouldn’t be afraid to make big moves and spend money, and getting the services of a guy like Brandon Woodruff, even if he doesn’t throw a big-league pitch in 2024, is something the team needs to take into serious consideration as their competitive window is opening.
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