Milwaukee Brewers starting pitcher Brandon Woodruff delivers during the first...

Milwaukee Brewers starting pitcher Brandon Woodruff delivers during the first inning of a baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Pittsburgh, Sept. 5, 2023. Brandon Woodruff is staying with the Milwaukee Brewers after all. The right-hander has finalized a backloaded $17.5 million, two-year contract with Milwaukee that includes a mutual option for the 2026 season, Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024. Credit: AP/Gene J. Puskar

PHOENIX — Brandon Woodruff is staying with the Milwaukee Brewers after all.

The right-hander has finalized a backloaded $17.5 million, two-year contract with Milwaukee that includes a mutual option for the 2026 season. The deal was completed three months after the Brewers allowed the injured pitcher to test free agency rather than tendering him a contract for 2024.

The 31-year-old Woodruff is expected to miss most, if not all, of the upcoming season while he recovers from shoulder surgery. But the new contract could keep the two-time All-Star with the Brewers when he returns to the mound, whether that’s this year or next year.

“Back in November when we non-tendered Brandon, we said we had to make a very difficult decision relating to one of the best pitchers and human beings in franchise history,” Brewers President of Baseball Operations Matt Arnold said Wednesday in a statement. “We also said we remained very open to his return to Milwaukee. Today, I am thrilled to say that Brandon has returned to the Brewers family. We look forward to guiding Brandon through his rehabilitation and ultimate return to the mound at American Family Field.”

Woodruff will receive $2.5 million this year and $5 million in 2025. The deal includes a $20 million mutual option for 2026 with a $10 million buyout, half payable on Jan. 15, 2026, and the remainder on July 15, 2026. The contract also grants Woodruff a full no-trade provision and a hotel suite on road trips.

When the Brewers made the decision to non-tender him, Woodruff was eligible for arbitration and would have been under team control for one more year. He had surgery in October.

Woodruff went 5-1 with a 2.28 ERA and 74 strikeouts in 67 innings last season despite missing four months with inflammation in his right shoulder. On the day before Game 1 of their NL Wild Card Series with the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Brewers announced Woodruff had hurt his shoulder again.

The injury prevented Woodruff from pitching in the Brewers’ 2-0 series loss to the eventual NL champion Diamondbacks.

Woodruff is 46-26 with a 3.10 ERA in seven seasons with Milwaukee.

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