We’re just a few weeks away from the Brewers breaking camp and heading to San Diego for Opening Day, but with so many recognizable names still on the free agent market and a perceived need in the starting rotation, rumors of the team adding another pitcher don’t seem to be dying down.
That might change if those passing along the rumors take GM David Stearns for his word.
Appearing on 105.7 FM The Fan’s “Big Show” Monday afternoon, Stearns (repeatedly) said while they continue to do their homework and keep tabs on what’s available, he doesn’t foresee adding any more pieces before March 29th:
“The work is never done. We’re always working, always looking to improve the team. I’ve said it throughout camp and it remains true today that I anticipate our current group to be the group that brings us into Opening Day.”
A lot of that might have to do with the asking prices for the likes of Jake Arrieta, Alex Cobb or Lance Lynn, who could conceivably help the rotation this year but would require a significant multi-year commitment. While Stearns said last year’s team opened the front office’s eyes that they were ready to compete now, his job is to keep an eye on the big picture.
“We need to make sure that we continue to manage our payroll responsibly so we can continue to add to this group in the coming years as we remain competitive and look to prolong this stretch of really quality play.”
”It’s a balancing act. We want to aid this current team as much as possible, we also want to make sure that we have the ability to add to groups going forward in future years when the right opportunities present themselves.”
That all makes sense, and goes back to what the local writers have been saying from the start of the offseason -- yes, the Brewers have (had?) money to spend, but they weren’t likely to commit large portions of their still-limited payroll to one or two players.
That didn’t stop the winter months from being filled with stories of pursuing the likes of Arrieta or Yu Darvish, who ultimately signed with the Chicago Cubs. Stearns says much of what we heard this winter was flat-out wrong.
“This offseason in particular there has been more, I would say frankly, false speculation of us than I have seen previously. There’s always a segment of the rumor mill that I read and I scratch my head a little bit and wonder where that came from, (but) this offseason there was a higher percentage of that.
I tend to assume it’s because there was so little activity around baseball, we were one of the clubs that were actually making moves, and so because we were active in certain fronts, writers picked up on that, baseball personalities picked up on that, and we were rumored in a number of situations. Some of it was true, a lot of what was rumored over the winter frankly was not.”
Still, that speculation will linger as long as those names are still on the open market. But, again, the man calling the shots seems to genuinely like the group he’s assembled this spring, and he wants to see how they do:
“My expectation is that our significant moves, whether it’s trade or free agency, have probably come and gone. Having said that, it would be foolish of us not to at least understand where the market is on any available player, whether that player is being shopped by another team or that player is out there on the open market. That’s why I never say never, but I will reiterate that I anticipate that we go into the season with the current group we have.”
Of course, unexpected scenarios can always arise in the last few weeks of spring training. Injuries can happen, or other teams can cut useful players loose. But at this point, Stearns seems to truly like the depth he’s assembled, and he’s willing to stick with the pieces he has for the time being. Now it’s just a matter of people believing him when he says it.