The Free Agent rotation
Imagine you could sign any pitcher off the free agent market. Now imagine signing five pitchers. You could build an all-star rotation if you had endless funds, but what if you had the Milwaukee Brewers payroll and needed to play a version of moneyball? Here is a group of pitchers that the Brewers could afford.
Wade Miley, LHP, 32
2018 – 5-2, 2.57, 1.22
Last season contract – $2.5 million with Brewers
Milwaukee Brewers fans are familiar with Wade Miley, and many want him back on the staff. He is currently a target of GM David Stearns, but is also gaining interest from the current Cincinnati Reds pitching coach, and former Brewers pitching coach, Derek Johnson.
His career high salary is $8.75 million in 2017 with the Baltimore Orioles, but few expect him to make that money in 2019, after a small sample size. It’s realistic to see Miley earning somewhere between $4.5-5.5 million in 2019.
Trevor Cahill, RHP, 30
2018 – 7-4, 3.76, 1.19
Last season contract – $1.5 million with Oakland A’s
After a few rough seasons, Trevor Cahill went back to Oakland to start for the American League wild card surprise A’s. In 20 starts he went 7-4 with a 3.76 ERA and 1.19 WHIP. Cahill also struck out 100 hitters in 110 innings, while giving up just eight home runs.
A sinker ball pitcher, Cahill relies on getting the ball down in the zone with his change-up, slider and knuckle-curve. In Miller Park that arsenal could be valuable as managed Craig Counsell likes to shift his defense to assist pitchers in getting ground outs. Cahill’s career salary is $37.75 million, with the majority of that coming in 2015 with the Atlanta Braves and Chicago Cubs. His bounce back in Oakland could lead to him earning $2.5-3 million.
Clay Buchholz, RHP, 34
2018 – 7-2, 2.01, 1.04
Last season contract – $1.5 million with Arizona Diamondbacks
A 2013 World Series champion, Clay Buchholz found a bounce back season with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2018, pitching to a 2.01 ERA in 16 starts. In 12 seasons Clay is 88-64 with a 3.86 ERA, but that story also includes a 6.75 ERA in 2008, 5.34 in 2014 and 4.78 in 2016.
His four-seam fastball is still hitting 91, and cutter are his primary pitches, but mixes in three breaking pitches that helped him get to 985 career strikeouts. Like Miley and Cahill, Buchholz is a guy that needed to find a team to bounce back on a one-year deal.
Mike Fiers, RHP, 33
2018 – 12-8, 3.56, 1.18
Last season contract- $6 million with Oakland A’s, non-tendered in arbitration
Could Mike Fiers return to the Milwaukee Brewers in 2019? The former Brewers pitcher went 12-8 with a 3.56 ERA with Detroit and Oakland in 2018.
Another control guy, Fiers relies on the four-seam fastball mixed pitches well leading to 139 strike outs to only 37 walks last year. The rough part of Fiers is the 32 home runs he gave up, which compares directly to Chase Anderson. His $6 million-dollar salary is also Anderson-esque.
Being non-tendered doesn’t mean he will take a pay cut for a team needing pitching. It’s not unrealistic to think he will request $6 million in 2019.