With Jimmy Nelson expected to be out for anywhere between a "chunk of" to "most of" the 2018 season, the Milwaukee Brewers have a clear need for starting pitching if they expect to chase a playoff spot again next year.
Much of Brewers Twitter seems enamored with the idea of trading for Tampa Bay's Chris Archer, while a few offseason projections have the team making a run at free agent Jake Arrieta.
As it turns out, that might not just be wishful thinking.
Appearing on MLB Network's Hot Stove, Jon Morosi of Fox Sports says the Brewers are in fact checking in on the big names available this winter (h/t BrewerNation):
.@jonmorosi: "The Brewers have set no limitations on the starting pitchers they are pursuing." Says they're players on Arrieta, Darvish, Lynn, Cobb. "If you are an elite level pitcher, the Brewers are calling on you."— The Brewer Nation (@BrewerNation) November 20, 2017
Source: #Brewers showing interest in free agent Jake Arrieta. With Jimmy Nelson expected to miss portion of 2018 after shoulder surgery, team is looking for top-of-the-rotation upgrades. @MLB @MLBNetwork— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) November 20, 2017
The Brewers are in a bit of a unique situation this winter. Normally, they wouldn't have the cash on hand to make a realistic run at the top-end options on the free agent market. But with a roster talented enough to push for a wild card spot but young enough that most key contributors aren't even in arbitration yet, David Stearns does have the payroll space available to make a splash if he's so inclined. Owner Mark Attanasio has shown a willingness to carry a payroll north of $100 million if the team is contending.
Yu Darvish and Arrieta will likely command $20-25 million per year over four or five years. Lance Lynn and Alex Cobb are also looking for four or five years, but might sign for closer to $12-16 million per year. For the sake of comparison, Archer is already under contract for four more years and will make $6.4 million next year and $7.6 million in 2019, with team options for $9 million and $11 million.
There will be plenty of competition for Arrieta, which will likely end up driving up his price, even with age and injury concerns lurking in the background. Teams like the Baltimore Orioles have also been portrayed as "looking at all options," having been linked to Cobb and Lynn a few days ago.