4 Budget Free Agents the Brewers Should Target This Offseason

Which affordable free agents should the Brewers bring in this offseason?
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Player # 1 - LHP Alex Wood

Alex Wood is hitting free agency after a rather underwhelming showing in his final two years in San Francisco. In 2022, he pitched to a substandard 5.10 ERA with a 1.24 WHIP across 130.2 innings. This season, he was relegated to a swingman-type role as the year progressed. In 12 starts and 17 relief appearances, he posted a 4.33 ERA to go with a FIP of 4.47.

On top of Wood’s recent struggles on the mound, he also faces durability concerns. He battled through a myriad of injuries over the past few seasons, including ailments to his shoulder, hamstring, and back. His lack of availability is concerning, and it should put a cap on his price in free agency.

That said, there are two main reasons why Wood would be a good fit in the Brewers starting rotation: He is excellent at pitching to soft contact, and the Brewers will need to bring in a lefty arm.

I'll start with the former reason. If the Brewers elect to retain Corbin Burnes this winter, which is looking to be the case, the starting rotation is projected to be a makeup of Burnes, Freddy Peralta, Adrian Houser, and Colin Rea- all of whom are right-handed pitchers.

Now, southpaw Aaron Ashby will be in the mix for a rotation spot as well in 2024. But there's uncertainty to what his exact role will be, and there's a good chance he lands in the bullpen in 2024.

Alex Wood could be a serviceable replacement for Wade Miley in the starting rotation. He is a lefty arm with plenty of experience, and he is one of the best at keeping the ball on the ground when healthy.

Even in a subpar 2023 season, Wood still managed to post a promising ground ball rate of 45.9%, which was in the top 30% of the league, according to Baseball Savant. Similarly, Wood demonstrates an exceptional ability to miss barrels with his pitching. He posted a 5.6% barrel rate in 2023, which was in the 83rd percentile.

Across his 11 big league seasons, Wood has an excellent ground ball rate of 50.4% and a barrel rate of just 5.4%. That type of pitcher profile can be successful with the Brewers, especially considering the elite bunch of defenders they have in the field.

At this point in his career, he isn't the same pitcher he once was. Yet, when healthy, he can still be a valuable rotation piece at just 32 years old. FanGraphs projects Wood's new deal to be around $7 million annually, and I think that would be great value in this market.