The SF Giants have been connected to many of the top remaining starting pitching options. While they should continue to explore that market, there is another interesting idea - former Milwaukee Brewers Brandon Woodruff.
SF Giants should target a former Brewers All-Star pitcher while alternatives begin to dwindle
In this situation, a team can take a flier on a player to prove to everyone what they can do. If this player has a good track record, it makes things even more compelling but perplexing at the same time.
The whole reason why Woodruff is available is because the Brewers non-tendered him on November 17th. Since then, the only news is that the Mets kicked the tires on the 30-year-old, according to Jon Heyman of the New York Post.
If Woodruff continues to just hang around, the Giants could pounce at the right time and get a quality top-of-the-rotation arm at a bargain rate. The only concern for Woodruff is that he is leaving the prime of his career and has an injury history.
The right-handed hurler missed the first half of 2023 with shoulder inflammation and then underwent surgery to repair the anterior capsule in October, leaving him off the Wild Card roster. It is more than likely he will be out all of 2024 as well. That said, he has left the door open for a late-season return next year. So there is a lot of risk involved here as whoever signs him won’t have him till 2025 in all likelihood.
However, all of that could be used as leverage by the Giants as reasons why they should sign him for cheaper than his name value. With the first year being a wash, you’d have to make it a 2-year deal, which is common with these types of deals. Because of the surgery, it would be a one-year deal after the year of recovery. A lot of incentives could be thrown in there as well.
Yet another reason this makes too much sense is that the Giants love reclamation projects. I also can’t help but imagine what Woodruff could do in a very pitcher-friendly ballpark like Oracle Park either. He would also be the perfect mentor for a soon-to-be very young starting rotation.
I’ve already hinted at how good he is. But to make that pitch even more intriguing, we should dive into his numbers. Last season, he made 11 starts going 5-1 with a 2.28 ERA. He has been spectacular over the past four seasons, posting a 2.76 ERA. He also finished fifth in the National League Cy Young Award voting in 2021 and is a two-time All-Star.
As mentioned before, there is going to be some inherent risk involved in bringing him in. There’s no doubt about that.
The same thing was once said about former Giant Kevin Gausman who has since turned into an ace at the top of the rotation for the Blue Jays. There are risks that general managers and front offices have to take to become a good or even great team. Signing Woodruff is the type of move that an aggressive and smart team typically does. It would not improve the 2024 team markedly, but could pay dividends starting as soon as 2025.
Nevertheless, the Giants should still target a frontline starter this offseason. The Woodruff move is essentially to better position the 2025 team.
It would make some sense for the Giants to pass on Woodruff. But how many times do you have the chance to get a guy who’s been elite for a bargain deal? The Giants should pounce when the time is right.