Here’s the latest from around the NL Central…
- The Brewers may not add any free agent arms this winter, let alone big-name pitchers, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes. Recent signings Randy Wolf, Jeff Suppan, Kyle Lohse were all unable to pitch effectively throughout the entirety of their multi-year deals with the Crew, and Matt Garza may be the latest signing to not make a full return on his contract given his rough 2015 numbers. The Brewers could rely on internal pitching options for next year’s rotation and since contending in 2016 will be a tall order, signing a top free agent starter (such as Wisconsin native Jordan Zimmermann) isn’t happening.
- Also from Haudricourt’s piece, he notes that next year’s Brewers payroll will be “down significantly” from its $102MM figure this season. “Principal owner Mark Attanasio has shown he is willing to go the extra mile financially when his team is in contending mode but otherwise has said many times he won’t spend just to spend,” Haudricourt writes, and thus a payroll cut seems imminent with the club entering a rebuild phase.
- J.A. Happ was a fairly unheralded trade deadline pickup but he’s pitched like an ace since joining the Pirates, to the point of outshining almost all the big-name pitchers who changed teams in July. Fangraphs’ Jeff Sullivan looks at why Happ has blossomed since coming to Pittsburgh to the tune of a 1.79 ERA, 9.4 K/9 and 6.00 K/BB rate over 40 1/3 innings.
- Speaking of unheralded Pirates acquisitions, Francisco Cervelli has been more than just a suitable replacement for Russell Martin, Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes. Cervelli’s 3.5 fWAR is the second-highest of any catcher in baseball, behind only Buster Posey (5.6) and well ahead of Martin (3.0). Cervelli has stayed healthy and contributed at the plate, while Sawchik also looks at how Cervelli has developed and adjusted his elite pitch-framing skills.
- Cody Stanley’s 80-game PED suspension could threaten his future with the Cardinals, Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. GM John Mozeliak said he and the organization will “look at our options” before deciding whether or not to keep the young catcher. “He clearly was having a nice year and we thought enough of him to bring him up. To everybody involved, it’s disappointing,” Mozeliak said. Stanley, a fourth-rounder from the 2010 draft, was ranked by Baseball America as the 22nd-best prospect in the Cards’ organization prior to the season, though given the depth of St. Louis’ system and the two PED suspensions now on Stanley’s record, it wouldn’t be a shock to see the club cut ties with him.