Rival's Free Agent Addition Hints At Difficulty Brewers Will Face In Filling Rotation

The Brewers need to fill out their starting rotation and it won't be easy or cheap
Senior Vice President and General Manager Matt Arnold speaks during an an end of season press
Senior Vice President and General Manager Matt Arnold speaks during an an end of season press / Mike De Sisti / The Milwaukee Journal

The Brewers already were facing a shortage of innings in their projected 2024 starting rotation. At the outset of the offseason, GM Matt Arnold spoke of the urgent need to add more pitching depth. Given the current state of the pitching market, doing so just got more difficult.

One of the Brewers division rivals, the Cincinnati Reds, just signed Frankie Montas to a one year, $16MM contract. If that's the price for a player like Montas, the Brewers will have a tough time filling out their rotation with free agent additions.

Montas has a lot of upside, but he's coming off nearly an entire missed season, appearing in just one game for the Yankees due to injury. If Montas, who is coming off a lost year can find a $16MM contract for one year, how can the Brewers afford to bring in a solid free agent they can rely on for an affordable price?

The Brewers need to find at least one, preferably two more starting pitchers before this offseason is over and the pitching market is now starting to move. Now that Yamamoto is off the board, we've seen Montas, Chris Sale, Chris Flexen, and Lucas Giolito find new homes in recent days. The Brewers will need to make an addition soon before the good options are all picked over.

Montas' contract with the Reds make the Adrian Houser trade look all the more puzzling for the Brewers.

The Brewers trade of Adrian Houser to the New York Mets continues to look peculiar from the outside looking in. Houser's $5.6MM projected salary was quite reasonable for the production the Brewers could expect from him in his final year of arbitration. They're highly unlikely to find as good of production for a better price on the free agent market, a point further supported by the contract the Reds just gave Montas.

Perhaps the trade market will bring in the depth and production the Brewers need in their 2024 rotation still, and Matt Arnold may have something big cooking. It's difficult to tell if they have something up their sleeve, but shipping out Houser and not getting a 2024 contributor in return is looking like a bad decision for the Brewers right about now.

The loss of Houser leaves the rotation picture as Burnes-Peralta-Miley-Rea-Joe Ross with Aaron Ashby potentially coming off injury and Janson Junk as the remaining starters with big league experience. The back two spots of that rotation are very worrisome right now.

Among the starters that could potentially be in the Brewers price range of free agency are James Paxton, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Sean Manaea, and Alex Wood. These pitchers could all easily slot into the back of the Brewers rotation instantly. But given the money that Montas just signed for, these pitchers all could be looking at somewhat similar money.

The Brewers need to be prepared to pay a little extra to get a solid addition to their rotation via free agency. That alone may force Milwaukee to look to the trade market, but prices there are just as high, even if the price isn't in dollars.