The Brewers do need to bring in some more starting pitching help this offseason. Wade Miley, Brandon Woodruff, Julio Teheran, and Eric Lauer are free agents from last year's squad. While there's a chance any of them could return, the Brewers may end up needing to sign some other players to help address their rotation this offseason.
Like most small market teams, the Brewers are operating with a tight budget this winter and won't be able to spring for guys like Shohei Ohtani, Yoshinobu Yamamoto, or Blake Snell. They'll have to focus on more affordable options.
Buy-low candidates are players that have the upside of a big money player but for various reasons their value is much lower at the time but a new season can see them perform up to a high standard. The Brewers should be in position to target these buy-low options as a way to operate within their means while still building a World Series caliber roster.
There are a couple such targets on the free agent market that could move soon and make sense for Milwaukee to sign.
1. RHP Frankie Montas
When Frankie Montas is at his best, you're getting an ace-caliber arm. He finished 6th in Cy Young voting in 2021 with the Oakland A's, posting a 3.37 ERA in 32 starts. He followed that up with a 3.18 ERA for Oakland the next season before being traded at the Deadline to the Yankees, where his numbers dipped.
Montas then suffered an injury that took out nearly his entire 2023 season. He pitched in just one game this past season but is now healthy and will be 100% ready to go in spring training 2024.
The 30 year old Montas is likely looking at a one year deal to rebuild his value and Milwaukee could be the perfect place to do it. Chris Hook is one of the top pitching coaches in the league and he's helped numerous pitchers thrive. If Montas returns to his ace form, he could help the Brewers make up for the loss of Brandon Woodruff in their rotation. You can't replace what Woodruff meant to this team, but a healthy Montas would come as close to it as the Brewers can afford to bring in.
By bringing in Montas, the Brewers can fill innings, bring in a high-upside veteran arm for a low cost, and still leave opportunities for their young pitching prospects to get innings and not be blocked long-term. If Montas reaches his full potential in his first year back from injury, he can build his value enough that the Brewers could potentially give him a Qualifying Offer next offseason. That's a lot of ifs but the upside is there.
2. LHP Sean Manaea
Sean Manaea is another former Oakland Athletic that has since been moved to a different team. He spent last year with the San Francisco Giants and while he started a number of games, he also spent some time out of the bullpen. That kind of versatility is always valuable to a team like the Brewers, but if they were to sign him, Manaea would likely get the opportunity to start.
Manaea had just a 4.44 ERA this year in 117.2 IP. He had a 3.86 career ERA with Oakland but has posted an earned run average above 4.00 each of the past two seasons. He doesn't appear to be the same kind of pitcher he was before.
He has a great fastball-changeup combo and gets tremendous extension coming down the mound. As a left-handed pitcher, Manaea carries extra value. The Brewers need a left hander in their rotation after Miley and Lauer hit free agency. Aaron Ashby remains as an option but after missing all of 2023, his rotation spot is hardly a guarantee.
Manaea earned $10MM in 2023 and given the current state of the pitching market, he's likely to get something similar this offseason, potentially even with a multi-year deal on the table.