Things have picked up a bit on the transaction front for the Milwaukee Brewers over the last few weeks. The club has signed three hurlers to Major League contracts since the middle of December and have inked another half-dozen players to minor league deals, and after yesterday’s official announcements of Boone Logan (1-year plus club option) and JJ Hoover (minor league contract), David Stearns told reporters that “we’re in a good spot” regarding the bullpen depth that he and his cohorts have assembled this winter.
While Milwaukee may be satisfied with their stable of ‘pen arms, the club is believed to still be on the lookout for an addition to the starting rotation. One player that the Cream City Nine has been linked to on several occasions this winter is considered to be one of the top two pitchers available, former Cub Jake Arrieta. Though Slingin’ Stearns downplayed the idea that he would be willing to shell out major money on the free agent market, a recent report indicates that Milwaukee is indeed serious about adding Arrieta to their starting staff for the foreseeable future.
According to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times, a source close to Arrieta says that the right-hander has contract offers from a half dozen teams, with heavy interest from within the division that he has become so familiar with over the last several seasons. Per the report, the Cubs, Cardinals, and the Milwaukee Brewers are among the clubs that have issued proposals to the 2015 National League Cy Young winner. All of the contracts are believed to be either three or four years in length at “overpay” annual values, though the source did suggest that one of the six teams may be close to extending their offer to five years.
Arrieta took awhile to find his footing in the big leagues but broke out in a big way after joining the Cubs in July of 2013. Over a five-year span with the North Siders, Arrieta logged 803.0 innings with a 2.73 ERA with 8.9 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9, winning a Cy Young award while finishing in the top-10 in voting for three straight seasons from 2014-2016. As noted in our Free Agent Target article on Arrieta, though, his numbers in 2017 were quite a bit more pedestrian. He compiled only 168.1 innings across 30 starts, posting a 3.52 ERA and 90 DRA- while his HR/9 rate spiked to 1.2. That’s still useful production of course, but Jake’s numbers were more reflective of a mid-rotation starter than the dominating ace he was for three seasons prior. The soon-to-be 32 year old’s relatively advanced age coupled with a notable loss of velocity this past season could be a cause for concern going forward, as well.
Arrieta and his agent, Scott Boras, were believed to be searching for a six or seven-year deal on the open market when the offseason began. But thanks to what’s seemed like a collective effort from MLB front offices to wait out the free agent market, prices on top free agents may be dropping. The Brewers have a little under $70 mil in payroll projected for 2018 after bringing Boone Logan into the fold, which gives them ample room to fit Jake Arrieta into the budget. The team has also been linked to Alex Cobb, Lance Lynn, and trade target Chris Archer throughout the winter, and all of those pitchers still remain available at this point, as well.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball Prospectus