Milwaukee Brewers: An Overview of the Starting Pitching Market
By David Gasper
The Milwaukee Brewers are going to be scouring the market for starting pitching. There’s going to be a lot of names thrown around on a market devoid of many top tier pitchers.
The biggest need this July for the Milwaukee Brewers is going to be finding a frontline starter. It’s not going to be easy. If Brewers GM David Stearns is to acquire an ace, it’s going to cost him a lot in terms of prospects. But that’s the price you have to pay.
With names being thrown around left and right by the national journalists and insiders, it’ll be helpful to know which names will be available and what type of pitcher they are.
“The Depth Adds”
Lance Lynn, Marco Estrada, Ivan Nova, J.A. Happ, Kyle Gibson, Tyson Ross
Most of these names are back end starters that simply add another arm to a rotation that already has it’s ace in place. The Brewers would not be good fits for players like this. David Stearns has already stated he’s not looking to add to depth, but would rather find someone to lead the rotation.
These guys aren’t it, but they’ll likely be sent somewhere else by the deadline.
“The Ace Potential, But Have Question Marks”
Chris Archer, Marcus Stroman, Cole Hamels
We know the Milwaukee Brewers sent a scout to watch Chris Archer’s latest start, so there’s interest there. He’s been out for a couple weeks with an abdominal strain, and just recently got back out on the mound. He can get probably five starts in before the July 31 deadline, and that might be enough to get a team to make a move for him.
Marcus Stroman also has battled injury this year, missing a month with shoulder fatigue. Since returning, he’s looked better, but has still struggled to the tune of a 6.50 ERA this year. The Blue Jays are reportedly heavily scouting the Milwaukee farm system, most likely in preparation for a trade. I have reason to believe that scouting is for interest in Stroman instead of a pitcher like J.A. Happ.
Cole Hamels is a big name, but he’s much older, has a big money contract to finish this year and an option for 2019. He also has a 4.28 ERA this year, so it appears his days of leading a rotation through the playoffs are over. There’s been no reported connection between the Brewers and Hamels to this point, for what it’s worth.
“The True Impact Aces”
Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard
Both deGrom and Syndergaard are on the struggling New York Mets. The Mets FO hasn’t committed to a rebuild and won’t say for sure they will move the stud pitchers.
If the Mets have any brains in their front office, they’ll trade at least one of these two before the deadline. This market is devoid of any other bona fide aces, and they can get a king’s ransom to help rebuild their terrible farm system.
deGrom has a 1.79 ERA this year and has been absolutely lights out in his 18 starts. He has 142 strikeouts in 115 innings this season, and has another two seasons of control after this one.
Syndergaard has had injury issues the past few years. That gives him a lower trade value than deGrom despite having an extra year of control over the NL ERA leader. But with his size and stuff combination, he could be one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball if he could stay healthy. Perhaps getting away from the Mets’ perennially awful training staff will help that.
These guys are not going to be easy to get, but the Milwaukee Brewers have the prospect capital to get it done.
Rentals vs. Controllable pitchers
With David Stearns clearly trying to build a long lasting contender, players with extra team control are going to be of much higher importance to Stearns than rentals. While rentals have their place and are much cheaper, that doesn’t look like it’s going to be the plan for the Brewers.
Lance Lynn, J.A. Happ, Marco Estrada, Tyson Ross, Cole Hamels
Hamels has a $6 million buyout for next season, and his team option could vest depending on how many innings he pitches. All those other options are back end pitchers this year and make no sense for Milwaukee to pursue whatsoever. They wouldn’t be an upgrade over Brent Suter, Jhoulys Chacin, or Junior Guerra.
Ivan Nova, Kyle Gibson, Chris Archer, Marcus Stroman, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard
Nova and Gibson are signed through 2019. Stroman and deGrom are controllable through 2020. While Archer and Syndergaard are controlled through the 2021 season.
Archer and Syndergaard are controlled the longest, but have health concerns. Stroman has those concerns as well, but deGrom checks all the boxes. He’s productive, he’s healthy, and he’s controlled for another two seasons after this one.
Nova and Gibson are not good enough to lead a rotation. Archer and Stroman are the second tier starters that aren’t very likely to get traded because of those injury concerns lowering the potential return. One of deGrom or Syndergaard should get moved at the deadline. David Stearns should be able to snag whichever one gets moved.
Next: Latest on pursuit of Manny Machado
If I had to guess, the Milwaukee Brewers will get one of Archer, Stroman, deGrom, or Syndergaard by the end of July. David Stearns can’t afford to pass up this opportunity to win this year.