The injury skid continued for the Brewers on Monday as they lost starting pitcher Brent Suter for the rest of the year. Suter tore the UCL in his throwing arm during his most recent start on Sunday and will undergo Tommy John surgery. Tommy John typically requires 12-14 months for full recovery, meaning that there is a chance we will not see Suter for the rest of this season and all of next year as well.
As big of a blow as this is for the Brewers, it’s even larger for Suter on a personal level. Suter overcame the odds of being a 31st round draft choice to make it to the majors. Throw in the fact that he is one of the lightest throwing starters in the league, and his story to success becomes even more fascinating.
What will become of Suter now that he is on the DL? Well, the Brewers have two options: to renew his contract in the off-season (he is not yet arbitration eligible), or let him go. They are much more likely to renew his contract, but let’s explore each option and their ramifications.
Should the Brewers choose to retain Suter (which I believe is very likely), they would renew his contract at the league minimum or very close to it, as is custom for players that are not yet arbitration eligible. In doing so, they would need to carry him on the 40-man roster for the entirety of the offseason. They would then place him on the 60-day DL at the outset of the season, which would free up his 40-man roster spot and allow the Brewers to add another player. Suter would rehab with the club’s training staff and compete for a spot on the pitching staff once healthy.
The second option would be for the Brewers to not renew his contract, which would make him a free agent. I believe this to be unlikely due to Suter proving his capability as an MLB-level pitcher, but the Brewers will likely face a roster crunch this offseason as prospects in their system gain Rule-5 eligibility. It may be difficult for David Stearns to fill a 40-man spot with a player that likely will not contribute for an entire season, but that will be necessary if the Brewers want to retain him for the future.
Suter is not a true difference-maker on the mound – he is more so an innings eater. That could make him expendable in the eyes of some decision makers. However, effective pitching is tough to come by, and Suter has proven that he can produce at an adequate level. In addition, the Brewers have a true clubhouse leader in Suter. Hopefully that, and the potential for future success, provides enough value to justify a 40-man roster spot this offseason.