For the Toronto Blue Jays, it seems that every year they end up running into some trouble with starting pitching depth. For example, just last season, they had to run a four-man rotation for a while because they couldn’t trust any of the arms that were available in their minor league system. In the year before, they even had to make a trade at the trade deadline to acquire Mitch White for pitching depth when both José Berríos and Yusei Kikuchi were struggling. As a result, it is crucial that if a viable, solid starting option ever becomes available, they should really consider pouncing on it.
Well, that opportunity has recently presented itself to the Jays when the Milwaukee Brewers chose to non-tender one of their co-aces in Brandon Woodruff. That certainly came as a surprise as both Woodruff and Corbin Burnes have been the lethal one-two punch for the Brewers’ starting rotation in leading them to success for the past four seasons.
Woodruff battled a shoulder injury for much of the 2023 season, which ultimately led to his major surgery in October. With the Brewers knowing that his recovery time could put him out for most of the 2024 season, perhaps that became part of the ballclub’s decision to not keep him on the roster. In a recent report, it was suggested the Brewers did in fact offer Woodruff a two-year deal, but talks broke off and he became non-tendered and now has become a free agent.
As a result, this presents a great opportunity for the Jays to add a front-end-of-the-rotation starter to their already solid core of Kevin Gausman, Chris Bassitt, and Berríos. For his career, Woodruff has been among the best in the business as he has compiled a stellar 46-26 record with a 3.10 ERA, 137 ERA+, 1.05 WHIP and an impressive 788 strikeouts in just 680.1 innings pitched. Even in his injury-plagued season in 2023, he actually posted a career-best 2.28 ERA and 0.82 WHIP despite making just 11 total starts.
The two-time All-Star also finished fifth in NL Cy Young voting in 2021, along with putting up some strong numbers in the playoffs despite his 1-3 career postseason record. If one needed to be more convinced of his abilities, just look at the more advanced statistical metrics on his Baseball Savant page and one would see almost a sea of red for most of the relevant categories.
Woodruff will probably not be able to help out the Jays much for 2024, due to his recovery from major right shoulder surgery. But similar to how the Jays stashed Chad Green using a value deal with complex options, they could offer something along the same line with Woodruff so that once he’s ready to go, he will certainly become a difference maker for the ballclub. Even if the worst case scenario happens and Woodruff doesn’t return until the 2025 MLB season, it will line up perfectly with Kikuchi heading into free agency, so he would provide a substantial upgrade at the position as a result.
So if Woodruff can be had for the right price with the right options, the Jays should act quickly to get it done as soon as possible.