Milwaukee Brewers: Latest on top free agent starting pitchers

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 18: Jake Arrieta
CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 18: Jake Arrieta /

The calendar has flipped to 2018 and all four of the top free agent starting pitchers are still available. What’s the latest on them and how do the Milwaukee Brewers fit in with each?

The Milwaukee Brewers have been linked with just about every big name free agent starting pitcher this off season. From Jake Arrieta to Lance Lynn, the Brew Crew has made it known that they’re open for business. Let’s take a look at how the current negotiations sit with the top four free agents.

Yu Darvish

It’s surprising that there isn’t more movement on Yu Darvish. Of the four, Darvish is the only starter that doesn’t have a link to the Milwaukee Brewers…yet. Darvish would look great in blue and gold, but the lack of rumors surrounding the Brewers and Darvish is telling.

Darvish has met with the Chicago Cubs, Texas Rangers, and Houston Astros. The Brewers interest is just rumors at this point.

Jake Arrieta

It’s clear that no one wants to offer Arrieta $200 million for six or seven years. The Milwaukee Brewers make sense as a landing spot for Arrieta, but not at the rumored price. Arrieta appears content to hold out until someone gets desperate, but it doesn’t look like that phone call is on its way. It’s looking more and more like Arrieta will have to settle for less than $200 million or look for a one-year ‘pillow contract’ to try again next year.

The most recent reports had Arrieta’s agent, Scott Boras, trying to engage the Washington Nationals. That was almost three weeks ago with little movement since then.

Alex Cobb

The Milwaukee Brewers were actually linked with Alex Cobb just this past week. Cobb wants at least $20 million per year. Unless that price comes down, the Cobb is unlikely to find a home in Milwaukee.

The advanced metrics don’t love Cobb. He’s coming off a season that saw him post a 4.24 xFIP with a 3.66 actual ERA. His velocity didn’t dip last year, but his HR-rate went up and his K-rate fell. 2018 will be his age 30 season. A five-year deal at $20 million per season could look rough in five years.

Lance Lynn

Lynn is competing for the same jobs that the other top guys are after. His market has been the quietest of the quartet. Lynn is rumored to want a deal similar to the five-year contract Jordan Zimmermann signed two years ago. He’s been linked with the Texas Rangers, Baltimore Orioles, and Milwaukee Brewers.

Lynn is going to turn 31 years old in May. He could sign a ‘pillow contact’, and try again next season without missing out on much. Much like Cobb, Lynn is a year removed from Tommy John surgery. He also saw his velocity stay about the same, but his HR-rate went up and his K-rate went down. His 4.75 xFIP looks ugly next to his 3.43 actual ERA.

Next: How does the Brewers bullpen compare to the Rockies?

The Milwaukee Brewers are still very much in play for the top free agents, but it remains to be seen how committed they are to adding a top arm. They really need an elite starter to pair with Chase Anderson and Zach Davies if they want to content in 2018. However, pitchers and catchers are six weeks away from reporting, and it looks like Jhoulys Chacin could end up as the only addition to the starting rotation.