Brewers were among finalists for top free agent starter who signed with NL Central rivals

Shota Imanaga was considering the Brewers this winter
Chicago Cubs v Boston Red Sox
Chicago Cubs v Boston Red Sox / Maddie Meyer/GettyImages

The Milwaukee Brewers are currently facing a pitching shortage as injuries have piled up in the rotation. During the offseason, after shipping out Corbin Burnes and Adrian Houser, as well as losing Brandon Woodruff for the season, they tried to bring in outside additions to fill those gaps.

The Brewers were able to succeed in signing Wade Miley, Joe Ross, and Jakob Junis, but were unsuccessful in other pursuits for free agent starting pitchers. While the Brewers weren't connected publicly to many names, we know now one of the pitchers GM Matt Arnold pursued and it was now Cubs pitcher Shota Imanaga.

According to a report from Bob Nightengale, there were four finalists for Imanaga's services after he was posted from Japan. The finalists were the Pirates, Red Sox, Cubs, and the Brewers.

Obviously, the Cubs ultimately won the sweepstakes, signing Imanaga to a four year, $53MM deal. So far this season, Imanaga has pitched to a 0.98 ERA through his first five starts, covering 27.2 IP with 28 strikeouts and just three walks. He's been exceptional for the NL Central rival Cubs and is not only a pitcher the Brewers could've used, but every team in baseball would like to have.

The belief was that Imanaga would be more of a mid-rotation arm when he came over from Japan, but his performance through the first month of the year has been nothing short of phenomenal.

It's unclear what the Brewers actual bid for Imanaga was. The report that they were one of the finalists for him though would indicate that they were close to what the winning offer was and Imanaga was strongly considering Milwaukee.

After missing out on Imanaga, the Brewers ended up signing Jakob Junis and trading for DL Hall in the Burnes deal to address the rest of their rotation. Junis has made one start and has been on the IL ever since while Hall struggled in his first four starts with an ERA over 7.00 before landing on the IL himself.

It's another case of what could've been for the Brewers in their free agent pursuits. They weren't able to secure the winning bid and now are watching their biggest rival enjoy the exploits of having the best performing free agent starter this year, and he'll be in Chicago for possibly the next four seasons as well.

Missing out on Imanaga could haunt the Brewers for years to come.