On Wednesday, the Milwaukee Brewers signed their first big free agent of the offseason when they ended up reuniting with an old friend in Wade Miley. His contract is for one year but includes a 2024 option. He will make $3.5MM in 2023 and has a $1MM buyout in 2024.
Miley has battled some injuries over the past few seasons, especially in 2022 in which he made just eight starts all year for the Cubs. The Brewers starting rotation also battled injuries last year as Corbin Burnes was the only starter to not miss a turn through the rotation.
Despite the injuries, the Brew Crew's starting rotation was pretty well stocked before signing Miley. Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, Freddy Peralta, and Eric Lauer headline the top four. Adrian Houser, Aaron Ashby, Janson Junk, and potentially even Bryse Wilson are all expected to compete for a spot in the rotation.
This begs the question as to how the signing of Wade Miley will impact players near the bottom of the depth chart in the starting rotation.
Here we will explore two potential scenarios that could play out among potential Brewers starting pitchers in the wake of the Wade Miley signing.
Option #1: Do Nothing, Keep All Current Players
Pitching depth is never a bad thing to have, especially when you consider a rotation of Burnes, Woodruff, Peralta, Lauer, and Miley. That five could be the best core in the league in 2023. They would also have additional depth players in case an injury pops up or if they desire to go with a six-man rotation.
In the scenario of a five-man rotation, this could mean that Houser and Ashby transition into more permanent bullpen roles. Both have had success as relievers for the Brewers in the past. Perhaps the organization thinks that they will be better off in that role.
As for Junk and Wilson, Junk has very little bullpen experience, but he also has minor league options remaining. This could allow for the Brewers to keep him extended by pitching in the minors, unless of course he carves out a role in the bullpen at the major league level. Wilson is out of options, so he needs find a path to playing time in spring training but he does have experience as a reliever.
Option #2: Trade Away A Starting Pitcher
Before you think it, no, we're not talking Burnes or Woodruff. Peralta is on a very team friendly deal and is likely not a trade candidate, so this leaves Lauer or Houser. Both pitchers are under club control for two more seasons.
Lauer has been a pleasant surprise and steady arm for the Brewers since being acquired from the Padres. This makes trading Houser more of a likely possibility from Milwaukee's end. Alone he may not be able to bring in a big name player, but packaged with a prospect he could be used to help upgrade a position like third base.
The Tampa Bay Rays love taking in Brewers pitchers, so perhaps one of the two could be used in a Yandy Diaz trade package?
The Brewers still have a few months to figure out what is going to happen with all the starting pitching depth they suddenly have on the roster. Honestly, it's one of the better problems for an MLB team to have.