Free Agent Profile: Brandon Woodruff is a high-upside pitcher for a team willing to wait as he returns from surgery

Photo credit:Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports
Brennan Delaney
4 months ago
An excellent starting pitcher just hit the free-agent market.
In this series, we look at free agents who the Jays could be interested in as free agency continues. We’ve already covered 12 players, which you can find at the bottom of this article. Let’s take a look at Brandon Woodruff, who was recently non-tendered by the Milwaukee Brewers. 

Brandon Woodruff’s 2023:

Milwaukee produces a ton of excellent starting pitchers, the most notable being ace Corbin Burnes. However, Woodruff has also been a top-of-the-rotation pitcher for the team over the past few seasons, as he was an All-Star in 2019 and 2021. 
The 30-year-old missed much of the 2023 season because of injury but looked great when healthy. He posted a 2.28 ERA and a 3.60 FIP in 67 innings pitched, along with a 29.2 K% and a 5.9 BB%. Unfortunately, the righty was limited to just 11 starts. Early in the season, he hit the Injured List with left shoulder inflammation until August. Before the start of the playoffs, Woodruff again went on the IL, this time for surgery. 
Pitchers coming off arm surgery are risky, but Woodruff has been great throughout his career. He has a career 3.10 ERA and a 3.19 FIP in 680.1 innings pitched. His K% sits at 28.9%, while his career BB% is at 6.5%.

Brandon Woodruff’s contract:

Per MLB Trade Rumors, Woodruff was set to make around $11.6 million in his final season of arbitration. He’ll make significantly less as he will miss most, if not all, of the 2024 season while rehabbing his shoulder injury.
If the Jays or any other team were to sign Woodruff, it’d be via a multi-year deal. It could be structured in numerous ways, sort of like how Chad Green’s contract was, but it could also be a two-year, $12 million deal with the majority of that money coming in 2025.
It’s hard to predict a contract for a pitcher who’ll likely miss all of the 2024 season, but the one thing I know for certain is that he’ll need to have a “show-me” deal in 2025.

Is Brandon Woodruff a fit for the Blue Jays:

The ideal spot for Woodruff is a team that could use a starter down the stretch in 2024, much like Hyun Jin Ryu was for the Blue Jays this year, while also being able to wait until 2025 if things don’t go smoothly. Yusei Kikuchi is set to become a free agent after the 2024 season, so Woodruff could be a built-in replacement with zero need to rush back. 
That said, you never really know what a pitcher will do when returning from a major surgery on his pitching arm. Even if he signs the hypothetical two-year, $12 million deal, what if he has a setback? What if he isn’t the same? There’s a lot of risk for a team signing the righty.
With that being said, the Jays have taken that risk before, signing Green to a deal with a whole lot of options and electing one of those options to have him in the 2024 bullpen. Could the same kind of contract happen with Woodruff?

As always, you can follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and Threads @Brennan_L_D. 



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