Baseball’s Winter Meetings are in full swing down in Sin City, and much like last year, early speculation has tied the Milwaukee Brewers to the market for pitching upgrades. The team relied heavily on their staff of “out-getters” last season as they produced the fourth-best ERA in baseball (3.73, tied with Arizona), with Craig Counsell deploying his hurlers in unconventional ways in order to maximize their strengths. Though the Brewers successfully developed and implemented a run prevention system with the pitchers they had on staff in 2018, GM David Stearns reportedly desires to add more upside to that group in 2019.
Per Jon Paul Morosi of MLB.com, the Brewers are one of a handful of teams – along with the Phillies, Yankees, and Braves – that are “in the market for an ace-level arm.”
Much of last winter was spent speculating about which frontline starters the Brewers would go out and get, and as it turned out, those hurlers were Wade Miley and Jhoulys Chacin. Slingin’ Stearns did acknowledge that continuing to find those types of players will be key to his club’s good fortunes now and in the future, saying “[i]f we’re going to be continually successful, we are going to have these under-valued guys. It generally happens later in the offseason.” But that doesn’t mean that finding adding a truly outstanding pitcher to the staff is off the table, or wouldn’t be worthwhile.
Milwaukee was listed as a potential landing spot for Indians’ ace Corey Kluber, with one anonymous source telling Tom Haudricourt that the Brewers could “satisfy the Indians needs” in a potential deal. Tom also reiterated Milwaukee’s supposed interest in Sonny Gray of the Yankees, although there is said to be widespread interest with some 11 teams involved in Gray’s market. New York is believed to be asking for a top prospect in exchange for their beleaguered right-hander at this early point in negotiations. On the other side of the Big Apple, Joel Sherman recently said in a spot on MLB Network that the Brewers were one of the teams who spoke with the Mets about Noah Syndergaard. Speculation has also listed the Brewers as fits for Kluber’s Cleveland teammate, Trevor Bauer, as well as San Francisco southpaw Madison Bumgarner.
Given the weakened state of Milwaukee’s farm system, targeting someone on the free agent market might be more sensible for the franchise at this point in time. With that in mind, David Stearns told reporters that his staff has done extensive scouting of Japanese left-hander Yusei Kikuchi. They’ve also been connected to JA Happ and Anibal Sanchez at various junctures of the offseason.