When the news broke that Brandon Woodruff had suffered yet another shoulder injury that would knock him out for the postseason, the Brewers didn't yet know how bad the injury would be. It took the wind out of the sails of the team as they were beginning the playoffs, but now they not only lost him for October, but for all of next year.
Woodruff sought a second opinion on his shoulder, and that opinion clearly confirmed the first opinion that he would need surgery to repair his shoulder. He underwent that surgery on Friday.
The Brewers announced the move this afternoon.
Brandon Woodruff likely having to miss all of the 2024 season is a brutal blow to the Brewers hopes of repeating as NL Central division champions.
The Brewers have had a tremendous amount of success in recent years due in large part to their excellent pitching staff, led by a talented trio atop the rotation. Woodruff was one of that big three that made this team so difficult for opponents.
Woodruff's injury was deep inside his shoulder and it's going to take a long time to recover, and there's no guarantee he gets back to the pitcher he was before. If he does, it may not even be with the Brewers either.
2024 is Woodruff's final year of arbitration with the Brewers before reaching free agency. He's projected to earn more than $11MM next year and then hit the open market. Woodruff will be 31 and heading into his age-32 season when he does hit free agency and now coming off a missed season due to shoulder surgery is going to severely hamper his earning potential.
The contract isn't the top priority for Woodruff or the Brewers right now, but it is something that will have to be taken into consideration down the line.
This is a brutal blow given what Woodruff brings to this team both on and off the field. He's a leader and the longest tenured member of this team on top of being an ace-quality arm. Milwaukee's starting rotation next year will be looking a lot different and this could force a different approach from the Brewers front office.
While the Brewers haven't typically been in the market for top tier starting pitchers in free agency or trades, they may have to be now that they know they can't count on Woodruff next season. Corbin Burnes and Freddy Peralta are still there to lead the group, but there's room for another top arm to join that rotation.
Brewers GM Matt Arnold stated at his end of season press conference that the team would aggressively pursue more pitching depth this offseason and that pursuit will now be kicked into high gear.
This could also force the Brewers in a different direction. Corbin Burnes is entering his final year under contract as well and Milwaukee could look to trade him and completely reimagine their rotation this winter while getting younger and perhaps reloading while taking a step back in 2024. It didn't sound like that was what Arnold was thinking at his press conference, but they also didn't know Woodruff's status at that time.
No matter how you slice it, this is a devastating blow to the Brewers and Brandon Woodruff. It negatively impacts their chances of winning in 2024 and their entire offseason plans now have to change as they work around not having one of their best pitchers available all of next season.