It kind of seems like this offseason is dragging a bit, doesn't it? Maybe it's this weird December rain in Milwaukee, maybe it's because of the other local sports team's up and down play, or maybe it's because Slingin' David Stearns and the Brewers have yet to make any of the blockbuster moves that we've all been wildly speculating about.
That doesn't mean, however, that the Brewers haven't been active so far this winter. Stearns has made several smaller deals, most notably trading Adam Lind last week, and has accrued some interesting depth heading into the 2016 season. The offseason is far from over, of course, and there is still plenty of time for more moves to be made. We know the club is actively searching for help at first base and in center field, but according to a recent report it sounds like the club has another position on its radar, as well.
Veteran pitcher Jhoulys Chacin signed a minor league deal with Atlanta a couple of days ago, but apparently the Brewers were also in the market for his services. Stearns wouldn't comment on the matter, but if the report is true it means that the club is likely looking to add to its pitching depth before next season begins.
Given the Brewers current plurality of starting pitching depth, it may seem counter productive to look to add someone from outside the organization. As it currently stands the club has four starting pitching spots basically sewn up between Jimmy Nelson, Taylor Jungmann, Wily Peralta, and Matt Garza. That leaves just one open rotation spot up for grabs between guys like Ariel Pena, Junior Guerra, and top prospects Zach Davies, Jorge Lopez, Adrian Houser, Josh Hader, Tyler Wagner, etc.
It's important to remember, however, that most of these prospects have yet to throw a single inning in AAA. While Lopez, Hader, Houser, et al all have exciting potential, there's little need to rush them to the majors at this time and they could all probably benefit from some more minor league seasoning. There is the matter of service time, as well, and it wouldn't be prudent for a small market team like the Brewers to waste a full year of one or more of their top prospects' major league service during a rebuilding season.
Milwaukee obviously hasn't and won't be in the market for the top pitchers on the market, but even after Chacin signed there are several intriguing buy-low options remaining. Doug Fister is probably the most prominent name among those, followed by the likes of Mat Latos, Brandon Beachy, Justin Masterson, or Mike Minor, just to name a few. Any one of these veteran hurlers might consider coming to Milwaukee looking to re-establish some of their lost value on a one-year deal and look to hit the open market again next season, when the free agent class figures to be much weaker.
Beyond being able to allow the further development of their prospects and keep their service time in check, adding a pitcher could potentially give the Brewers another trade asset come the deadline. Contending teams are almost always looking to trade for rental pitchers at the deadline as they make their playoff push, which would give the Brewers another avenue to add to their stable of young, controllable talent. With a new pitching coach and organizational philosophy in place, the Brewers have probably already spent plenty of time scouring the market for pitchers who could bounce back with the right coaching and mechanical adjustments. Signing an established starter would also make it more palatable for the club to trade someone like Wily Peralta, as well.