Brewers non-tender All-Star pitcher Brandon Woodruff after shoulder surgery

MIAMI, FLORIDA - SEPTEMBER 23: Brandon Woodruff #53 of the Milwaukee Brewers reacts during the third inning against the Miami Marlins at loanDepot park on September 23, 2023 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

Brandon Woodruff is expected to spend most, if not all, of next season rehabbing from a shoulder surgery. He won’t be doing so in a Milwaukee Brewers uniform.

The Brewers announced Friday they would not tender Woodruff a contract in his final season of arbitration eligibility, making him a free agent a year earlier than previously expected. First baseman Rowdy Tellez and reliever J.C. Mejía saw a similar fate.

The decision basically meant the Brewers didn’t think it was worth it to keep Woodruff for 2024 in light of his injury, as salaries received in arbitration reflect past performance rather than expected performance for the ensuing season. MLB Trade Rumors projected Woodruff to receive $11.6 million arbitration this offseason.

The Brewers could have kept him on a multi-year deal to give him an opportunity to rehab and return in familiar surroundings, but they apparently couldn’t find a deal that worked. The team went as far as releasing a statement from general manager Matt Arnold to recognize the pitcher’s meaning to the team after non-tendering him:

“Today we had to make a very difficult decision relating to one of the best pitchers and human beings in franchise history. Throughout his 10 seasons in the organization, Brandon Woodruff has represented the Brewers with class, kindness, heart and toughness. He is recognized as a tremendous teammate, both on the field and in the community, where he and his wife, Jonie, have positively impacted so many lives around them. We remain very open to his return to Milwaukee, and regardless of what uniform he wears next, Woody will always be a member of the Brewers family.

Woodruff will likely now pursue that multi-year deal with another team, and he should have some takes based on his recent performance.

The right-hander ranks fourth among all qualified MLB pitchers with a 2.76 ERA across the past four seasons, and ninth with a 3.13 FIP. In today’s pitching-starved MLB, a two-time All-Star pitcher on a cheap deal is a tantalizing prospect, even if you will likely have to wait a year before reaping the rewards.

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