David Stearns and the Milwaukee Brewers already broke the record for largest free agent contract in franchise history when they inked Lorenzo Cain for five years and $80 mil in late January. That record may not stand for long, however, if Stearns and company have their way before the start of the regular season. According to various reports, free agent pitcher Yu Darvish is said to be currently weighing multiple offers of $100+ mil and Jon Heyman of Fanrag Sports confirmed earlier today that the Brewers are one of the teams that has submitted a nine-figure proposal for the 31 year old to consider.
Per Heyman, the Brewers have done little to address their starting rotation so far this winter besides the addition of Jhoulys Chacin, but relative to other teams are “trying to upgrade the pitching in a significant way.” Heyman notes that the prevailing belief is that Darvish would prefer to land with the Rangers, Dodgers, or Cubs, and suggests that the Brewers may have to be willing to overpay - or “go the extra mile” as he puts it - in order to convince Darvish to sign on the dotted line.
David Stearns’ recent public comments downplayed the extent to which his team needs to add to their starting rotation, but it’s clear that the staff could use an upgrade. Darvish was considered to be the top free agent available from the moment the offseason began and has authored a 3.42 ERA and stellar 60 DRA- across his five healthy big league seasons. PECOTA projects him for a 3.60 ERA and 2.5 WARP in 155.0 innings in 2018, numbers that easily surpass the projections for rest of the members of Milwaukee’s starting staff. Both PECOTA and USA Today believe that the Brewers will be right in the thick of the playoff chase during the upcoming season, and adding a high-impact arm like Darvish would move the needle that much closer to a postseason berth.
Even after signing Cain and taking on the remaining four guaranteed seasons of Christian Yelich’s contract, the Brewers are still projected for less than $90 mil in payroll for the upcoming season. Owner Mark Attanasio has already gone on record as saying that his team can still afford to sign a major free agent and if this report is to be believed, he and his General Manager are clearly not scared off by the idea of outlaying $100+ mil to bring Yu Darvish into the fold. If that doesn’t come to pass, Heyman notes that the club is still pursuing other options, saying that they’ve remained in contact with Jake Arrieta and Alex Cobb while continuing to converse with the Rays about Chris Archer.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball Prospectus