Brewers bring back injured ace Woodruff on 2-year deal

February 22nd, 2024

PHOENIX -- When rumors about 's possible return to the Brewers began to swirl, the praise began to flow.

“Woody is not only one of my favorite Brewers ever, he's one of my favorite people ever, and outside of baseball, too,” Mark Attanasio, the Brewers’ chairman and principal owner, said Tuesday.

"You can't talk about the greatest era in Brewer history and not talk about Brandon Woodruff," Brewers manager Pat Murphy said Monday. "He's been rock solid, and he's trusted by every single person that has been on our teams."

On Wednesday, the club made it official when it announced the signing of the right-hander to a two-year contract with a mutual option for 2026. To make room for Woodruff on the roster, the team designated Jahmai Jones for assignment.

“The way things shook out for me, it made me realize that I wasn't supposed to go out the way I was supposed to go out with the Brewers, getting hurt, not being able to pitch, then getting non-tendered,” Woodruff, 31, said. “Now that I'm signed back, it kind of just hit me like, man, this is where I'm supposed to be, whether it's two more years or whatever it looks like. I've still got a lot of, I guess you could say unfinished business in the Brewers’ uniform. And that's the way I feel about it.”

The two-time All-Star missed four months last season due to a right shoulder strain. When healthy, he posted a 2.28 ERA and a 0.82 WHIP through 67 innings. He missed the club's National League Wild Card Series against the D-backs because of shoulder trouble and underwent surgery to repair his right anterior capsule on Oct. 13. He started a throwing program last week, but it’s uncertain if he will pitch in 2024, as he is following the orders of Dr. Keith Meister, who performed the surgery.

What we do know is that Woodruff will rehab in Milwaukee during the season, and he wants to be with the team as much as possible.

“We had to do things sometimes that are painful in the past couple months, and one of those was non-tendering Brandon Woodruff,” Brewers general manager Matt Arnold said. “As we worked through our process here and continued to stay in touch with him, we just felt like bringing him back was the right thing to do for the franchise and for one of the best players in the franchise’s history. He's just such a special person. He and his family are tremendous, and whenever he's ready to pitch, I couldn't be more excited just to have him in our dugout and on our side just impacting people.”

The club also announced the signing of catcher Gary Sánchez to a one-year deal with a mutual option for 2025. The club moved Woodruff to the 60-day injured list to make room for Sánchez. The catcher has a career .225/.309/.469 slash line with 173 home runs and a 109 OPS+ in nine big league seasons.

“He's not just a one-dimensional player,” Arnold said. “This guy is a very talented defender and then obviously comes with a bat and power that is imposing in the middle of a lineup. And so that combination we feel like is something that's going to be really productive for us this year.”

As for Woodruff, he was drafted by the Brewers in the 11th round of the 2014 Draft out of Mississippi State and has a 46-26 record with a 3.10 ERA and one save in 130 games (115 starts) over seven seasons with the team. He is the all-time franchise leader in ERA, WHIP (1.05), and winning percentage (.639, min. 500 innings). He ranks seventh in franchise history with 788 strikeouts. He said he was close to signing with another team when the Brewers made their final pitch.

“This is an organization where I've grown up in and I'm very familiar with the situation I'm getting into with the medical staff and the front office, the coaching staff and even with people in the city,” Woodruff said. “Just a lot of positives that I can take from this, and it made the decision pretty easy.”