With the arms that the Brewers have, they should continue to be one of the top rotations in baseball going forward, but the kind of bargain value they’re getting will be fleeting.
This rotation’s payroll is not going to stay at such a low level for very long. Woodruff will see a big bump in his second year of arbitration while Burnes and Houser will enter their first years of arbitration after 2021. If Burnes keeps this up, he’ll see a huge pay raise. Peralta’s backloaded deal will continue to push his salary higher, but it’s a modest deal, so the cost won’t be inhibitive.
All four of Woodruff, Burnes, Houser, and Peralta are guaranteed under contract through 2024. Peralta has two club options for 2025 and 2026 as well.
Pretty soon, probably next spring, the Brewers will most likely approach Woodruff and Burnes with contract extensions and try to get some cost-certainty over their top arms for the next few years. David Stearns’ mantra has been to “acquire, develop, and retain” young talent. He has acquired the talent and developed this homegrown rotation into a force. The next step, is to retain them. It began with Peralta. Woodruff and Burnes are next. Those two will cost much more than Peralta’s $15.5MM contract.
The key to sustained success with a homegrown rotation is a pipeline of talent coming through the minor leagues to replenish the big league group with strong arms at a low price. It’s a method the Indians have seemingly perfected in recent years. With arms like Ethan Small and Aaron Ashby close to ready, the Brewers should be in a good payroll position going forward even as Woodruff/Burnes see big pay raises.
Not having to pay free agent prices for starting pitchers will allow the Brewers to spend their money on the rest of the team to ensure the roster around Christian Yelich stays competitive going forward. Having a rotation filled with dependable starters is key to success in October.
With the homegrown rotation pipeline in place, David Stearns has placed the team in an excellent position to remain competitive and in the hunt for a World Series title while working within their means on the payroll. That’s the value of a homegrown starting rotation.
Pitching is too expensive for the Brewers to continuously buy on the free agent market. By developing it themselves, the Brewers can spend less and improve the team.