The Milwaukee Brewers will watch yet another productive member of their 2023 roster hit the open market as starting pitcher Wade Miley declined his end of his mutual option.
Miley's contract that he signed with the Brewers back in January carried a $3.5MM salary with a $10MM mutual option for 2024. Instead, Miley will see what the market has to offer and will seek a higher payday than the $10MM on his option.
Miley enjoyed a strong season in his return to Milwaukee, posting a 3.14 ERA in 23 starts. He had a 2.5 bWAR this year and will turn 37 years old before next season. He was a steady, veteran presence in this rotation and an important leader in the clubhouse. His role as the only regular left-hander in the rotation was also very important.
Mutual options are rarely exercised across the league, so this was always a likely outcome for Miley. If the player performs well, they typically decline the option and seek a higher payday on the open market. If the player underperforms, the team will decline their end. Miley will take the $1MM buyout.
Even though Miley declined his option, the door is certainly not closed on Miley returning to the Brewers in 2024. While he was on the verge of retirement before the Brewers signed him last offseason, his success this year has given Miley the confidence that he can continue pitching into his late 30s.
His 2.5 bWAR this year would put him as one of the best bargains for his salary. Based on that production and what teams typically pay for a 2.5 WAR player, it makes sense for Miley to hit the open market and he stands a good chance of beating that $10MM salary.
Miley's free agency does keep the Brewers starting rotation as the biggest need for the front office to address this offseason. His departure combined with the loss of Brandon Woodruff and the departures of Eric Lauer and Julio Teheran leave the rotation quite thin. The Brewers re-signed Colin Rea already to help address the depth issue, but without Miley in the picture, Milwaukee will likely need to add two starting pitchers this offseason to help fill the void.
One of those pitchers could still end up being Miley, but it'll be a bit more expensive than keeping Rea. The Brewers have one option decision outcome left and that's Mark Canha. He has a $11.5MM club option for next year with a $2MM buyout.