As Brent Suter and Wade Miley make strong (very) early cases for spots in the Brewers’ starting rotation, the team continues to explore its external options, according to multiple reports.
In his latest “Inside Baseball” notes column, Jon Heyman says the team is still thinking about signing a free agent:
The Brewers are considering signing a free agent pitcher, with Lance Lynn and Alex Cobb seen as more likely than Jake Arrieta. While they like Arrieta, they aren’t sure they could fit him into the budget. Arrieta would also be a nice way to tweak the Cubs.
The “nice way to tweak the Cubs” is more likely a Heyman aside than an actual motivation to sign the former Cy Young winner, since a. the Cubs have already moved on from Arrieta by signing Yu Darvish and b. there are better ways to irritate the Cubs than locking yourself down for 5-7 years by signing an aging pitcher that used to play for them.
Despite the apparent continued interest in one of the remaining free agent starters, even the likes of Heyman seem to be coming around to the idea that the Brewers might be content just riding out at least the first half of the season with the group they already have:
If they don’t come up with a starter via trade or free agency, they will chose among Brandon Woodruff, Corbin Burnes, Aaron Wilkerson, Freddy Peralta, Brent Suter, Yovani Gallardo and Wade Miley for the final two spots. Milwaukee wouldn’t mind giving the job to one of the kids.
One scout said Suter doesn’t look like much as he throws 86-88, but the Brewers see a potential crafty lefty who just might make it. Mark Buehrle or Jamie Moyer would be the mold.
Suter and Miley have taken the ball and hit the ground running in each of their first handful of spring appearances this year. Neither has allowed a run, and Suter hasn’t allowed a hit in his first 4 innings.
As we’ve previously noted, the Brewers’ first half schedule only calls for a 5th starter a handful of times through June -- around the time Jimmy Nelson could be nearing a return, or this year’s midseason trade market starts to take shape. If the Brewers are confident enough in the front of their rotation -- and Heyman also says one scout says Chase Anderson already looks “really, really good” this spring -- maybe it doesn’t make a ton of sense to lock themselves into a larger contract for a pitcher who would only be a modest upgrade over the options they already have.
There’s always still the chance the team can find another starter on the trade market by using their outfield depth, but Heyman also says the sledding has been tough in that area. Not because of a lack of trying, but because the outfield trade market is virtually non-existent:
The Brewers are talking to teams to try to alleviate their outfield logjam (and more to the point, add a starting pitcher) and have been dangling very good young players like Domingo Santana, Brett Phillips and Keon Broxton. But there’s an issue: Not many teams need outfielders, as evidenced by the fact that there are still some good free agent outfielders on the market. The OF market was wrecked by the Marlins trading four very good ones (assuming Dee Gordon becomes a very good one).
Names like Jose Bautista, Melky Cabrera, Carlos Gonzalez, Jon Jay, Seth Smith and Jayson Werth are still left unsigned, and while they may not have the upside of some of the options the Brewers are peddling on the trade market, they would still only cost teams money -- not players. Until those options are gone or a need arises, the Brewers are going to have a tough time getting what they want (or deserve) for guys who still have multiple years of team control left.