Brewers Free Agent Who Could Return In 2024: RHP Colin Rea
I could very easily see the Brewers looking to bring back Colin Rea in 2024. They signed him to a minor league deal before the season and he ended up pitching 124.2 IP for the Crew with a respectable 4.55 ERA.
Rea was never spectacular, his outings were never sexy, but he ate up a bunch of innings and gave the Brewers a good chance to win each of the games he pitched. He doesn't walk many guys and was a reliable arm. You always knew what you were going to get from Rea.
With Brandon Woodruff likely out for all of 2024, the Brewers will need to add to their starting rotation this offseason. They're also losing Eric Lauer, Julio Teheran, and potentially Wade Miley to free agency this offseason.
GM Matt Arnold clearly stated the Brewers needed more pitching depth this winter and they would be aggressively pursuing it and that was before we knew about Woodruff. Bringing back Rea isn't going to be the crown jewel of the Brewers pitching additions, but he's proven to be a quality, reliable pitcher that provides depth in a group that clearly needs it.
Rea could be looking at a one year deal perhaps with an option for a second year. There's even a chance some team will give Rea two guaranteed years after his performance in 2023. It's unlikely the Brewers go for a second guaranteed year, but there will be some competition for Rea.
Brewers Free Agent Who Will Leave: LHP Eric Lauer
The Brewers outrighted Eric Lauer off the 40 man roster and he's already elected free agency. Lauer was heading for his final year of arbitration but seemed likely for a non-tender after an awful 2023 season.
Lauer lost his rotation spot early, then got injured and the Brewers didn't really know what was wrong with him. He was taken off the field for a couple weeks to figure things out in Arizona. Then he remained in Triple-A for the rest of their season. The Brewers called him up at the end of the season to make a final start, and he had an awful game against the Cubs, finishing the season with a 6.56 ERA.
The Brewers do have a need for pitching depth, as previously explained, and Lauer is one of the few lefties that's been on this team. If Miley leaves, the only lefty starter on the 40 man will be Aaron Ashby, who just missed all of 2023 with injury. That does leave a hole to be filled, but the Brewers will likely fill it with someone besides Lauer.
It was clear as the season went on that Lauer had fallen out of favor with Milwaukee, given his extended time in the minors. The fact that the Brewers quickly outrighted him to clear a roster spot well before the non-tender deadline meant their decision to move on was hardly a difficult one. Lauer will seek an opportunity to earn a rotation spot somewhere in 2024, but it won't be Milwaukee.