Much has been made of the reports that the Brewers made a contract offer to Yu Darvish about two weeks ago. A quote from ownership stating that GM David Stearns is “working on” adding another pitcher has only added fuel to that fire. But when asked Saturday if there’s been any progress in that search, Stearns metaphorically threw a giant bucket of cold water on those hot stove rumors. “We continue to have discussions on a variety of fronts,” he said (via Tom Haudricort of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel). “But at this point I anticipate going (to spring training) with our current group.”
If the Brewers did make a proposal to Darvish, Haudricort notes, it wasn’t enough to lead to a deal. Additionally, the team has not confirmed any reports that they might sign Darvish, who is believed to be seeking a deal in the range of $150-$175MM. Further dampening any Darvish hopes from Milwaukee fans are reports that the right-hander would like to return to one of his previous teams: the Rangers or the Dodgers.
Stearns’ comments also seem to indicate that the club’s recent efforts to trade for Rays right-hander Chris Archer didn’t bear any fruit. It’s a trade scenario that already seemed unlikely in the first place, given that only ten days ago Archer told Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times that he expects to remain in Tampa Bay to open the season.
It’s not as though Stearns completely closed the door on adding a starter. According to Haudricort, he did express that the club is open to acting “if the right opportunity presents itself.” But he followed that up by saying that the club has a “high level of confidence” in its in-house options.
On the surface, Milwaukee would appear to be one of the MLB teams with the most pressing need for a starter. Beyond Chase Anderson, Zach Davies and the injured Jimmy Nelson (who projects to miss a good portion of the 2018 season), the Brew Crew have a group of low-ceiling starters vying for the remaining spots in the rotation. That group includes Yovani Gallardo, Brent Suter and Jhoulys Chacin. While a rotation comprised of the pitchers above wouldn’t represent a bottom-dwelling cast, it’s curious that the team would make such a strong effort to acquire Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain while failing to improve on the starting pitching front. Of course, it’s worth noting that the Brewers will control both of those outfielders for five full seasons, and they aren’t set to lose any of their most important core players any time soon.
Prior to this news, Milwaukee was thought to be at least an assertive shopper in the free agent pitching market. If they’re indeed prepared to turn up their noses and roll with internal options to open the season, it’d prove bad news for a 2018 free agent pitching class that has yet to see any of its top four candidates come off the board. Teams have yet to show any serious interest in Jake Arrieta, Alex Cobb or Lance Lynn at their current asking prices, and MLB clubs seemingly haven’t gained any traction with even Darvish to this point in the offseason. With just a few weeks until the start of spring training, this development can only further freeze a historically cold MLB hot stove.