When the Brewers signed Lorenzo Cain to one of the largest contracts in team history, a five-year, $80 million pact that starts at $13 million this season and works its way up to $17 million, there was some talk about what it would do to the team’s chances of signing a free agent starting pitcher.
After all, the Brewers have been linked to Cubs ace Jake Arrieta for much of the winter and are said to have a formal offer submitted to Yu Darvish. Could the payroll, now projected at close to $90 million for 2018, possibly sustain a $20+ million-a-year commitment?
At Brewers On Deck today, the man signing the checks says yes.
Mark Attanasio says that after adding Yelich and Cain, there is still room in the payroll to add one of the big free agent pitchers. So, we’ll see.— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) January 28, 2018
Attanasio: "You can never have enough pitching and David (Stearns) is working on it."— Tom (@Haudricourt) January 28, 2018
Listening to #Brewers owner Mark Attanasio a few minutes ago, I'd be more surprised than not if the team did not add another starting pitcher. And sounds like it could go either way -- trade or free agency.— Tom (@Haudricourt) January 28, 2018
Mark Attanasio has shown a willingness to spend if he thinks the team needs help getting over the top. Based on other comments made to fans today, it looks like he and the front office have decided to go for it over the next few years, if you couldn’t tell from the Cain signing and the trade for Christian Yelich.
Attanasio said there was a meeting of the front office brain trust in October and the decision was made that 2018 was just as important as 2020 in this rebuild. Thus, Yelich and Cain (and it sounds like more to come).— Tom (@Haudricourt) January 28, 2018
Logic still says the team will likely make that pitching addition by trading one or more of their spare outfielders, but at the very least, Attanasio’s comments mean the team wouldn’t have to focus on pitching on any trade of Domingo Santana, Keon Broxton, Brett Phillips or anyone else. They could instead to opt for help at second base or even retool the farm system by cashing in on Santana or Phillips for more prospects.
Or, if an outfielder trade does bring back a cost-controlled and paid-below-market-value starter — say, Chris Archer or Danny Salazar or Julio Teheran — those payroll savings could still be spent to bring someone like Neil Walker back.
Regardless of what the team decides to do, it’s clear Attanasio is willing to approach a nine-figure payroll in pursuit of a playoff appearance not only in 2018, but in the years to come.