Milwaukee Brewers: Complete 2018 Off-Season Preview

MILWAUKEE, WI - SEPTEMBER 28: Corey Knebel /
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Milwaukee Brewers

Last winter, David Stearns didn’t make many major free agent acquisitions for the Milwaukee Brewers outside of signing first baseman/bearded Hulk/outfielder Eric Thames to a three year deal.

Thames hit .247 with 31 homers and an .875 OPS. Stearns first foray into multi year free agent deals was fairly successful.

But now Stearns is in position to make more of these free agent acquisitions. So who could be joining the Brewers?

Starting pitchers should be the position to look at. Most of the offensive positions have plenty of in-house options but the Milwaukee Brewers found themselves short on starting pitching in September. Also, the bullpen could always add another arm or two.

Jimmy Nelson will miss a chunk of next season and while the size of that chunk still isn’t determined, someone will need to keep that rotation spot warm for him. MLB Trade Rumors has a list of every MLB free agent this winter.

The Brewers do have a couple of prospect options for that rotation. Aaron Wilkerson, Josh Hader, Brandon Woodruff, and Corbin Burnes will all get looks in Spring Training but David Stearns and Craig Counsell might want some more experience in their pitching staff. Who could that be? Here are two options.

RHP Alex Cobb

Cobb has always been a serviceable mid-rotation arm in Tampa Bay. He pitched to a 3.66 ERA in 2017 over 29 starts on a $4.2 million contract. Over his career, Cobb has started 115 games, thrown 700 innings with a 3.50 ERA. It seems unlikely that Tampa Bay will resign him. Cobb isn’t necessarily a true ace and that’s a good thing. It means he won’t get paid like a true ace.

He’s more of a mid-rotation arm that has the potential to be a #2 starter when he’s at his best. Now, Cobb will be 30 next season. And teams, especially the Milwaukee Brewers, should be wary of giving long term deals to starting pitchers that are at least 30 years old.

Cobb missed all of 2015 and most of 2016 with Tommy John surgery. But in his first full season back from the surgery he was very effective. Because of that surgery, Cobb is unlikely to get more than three years on the market. If he can command four years on the market, David Stearns will bow out of the bidding for Cobb.

Rest assured, there will be a number of bidders for Cobb.

If the Milwaukee Brewers can convince Cobb that it’s worth taking a shorter deal to come play at Miller Park, the starting rotation is definitely something to be feared next season. He could easily get $12-15 million a year on whatever contract he signs.

RHP Bryan Shaw

Shaw will also be 30 next season and has been extremely effective for Cleveland in a lot of big situations in the postseason. He was instrumental in the Indians’ run to the World Series in 2016.

Hehas been steady, pitching to an ERA between 2.54 and 3.54 every season of his big league career. Shaw would be another quality arm late in games that Craig Counsell could go to. If Anthony Swarzak cannot be resigned then maybe Shaw will be an option.

He’s pitching on a $4.6 million deal this season and could earn a slight bump in pay this winter. He could earn something similar to what Swarzak could get in the two year, $10-15 million range. Cleveland will likely do everything they can to bring him back however.