The biggest fish of the non-tender group of players is Brandon Woodruff. Pitching is in high demand this offseason, and Woodruff joins an already stacked list of pitching free agents such as Aaron Nola, Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Blake Snell, Jordan Montgomery, and Sonny Gray. In addition to these free agents, there are also rumors that Dylan Cease, Logan Gilbert, Shane Bieber, Tyler Glasnow, and even Corbin Burnes could be available through trades.
Woodruff was projected to be tendered a contract around $11.6 million this offseason by the Brewers. He is supposed to miss the entirety of the season due to a shoulder injury, but there is still a slight chance he will be able to return towards the end of the season. Milwaukee didn't see much sense in signing a pitcher to that expensive of a contract only to have him sit on the bench all year. Instead, they non-tendered him, thus making him a free agent.
The perennial Cy Young candidate has finished as high as 5th in Cy Young voting in 2021, and he has two All-Star appearances on his resume. Woodruff has a career 3.10 ERA, 3.19 FIP, 1.045 WHIP, and has averaged 10.4 strikeouts per nine innings. He has some injury concerns, especially with his recent shoulder surgery, but Woodruff pitched 179 innings as recently as 2021. He fits the mold of pitchers the Cardinals should be eyeing this offseason.
A multi-year contract is very likely for the free-agent right-handed pitcher. Given his age (30), Woodruff can command a contract around 5 or 6 years in length. Additionally, his average annual value will also be relatively high given his success as a starting pitcher. I could see a contract of around 6 years and $120 million for Woodruff. His first year of the contract will be a wash, so St. Louis could potentially backload the contract to allow more freedom for spending this offseason.
Brandon Woodruff would be a huge boost to the Cardinals' rotation for 2025 and beyond. He likely won't pitch in 2024, but it's not every day that a Cy Young candidate becomes a free agent.