The Milwaukee Brewers are making sure nobody forgets about them in the National League Central.
While the St. Louis Cardinals continue to make trades and the Cubs remain linked to the top starting pitchers on the market even after signing three pitchers, the Brewers have been rather quiet. All winter, the only noteworthy moves from Milwaukee came in the form of under-the-radar pitcher signings — starters Jhoulys Chacin and Yovani Gallardo plus reliever Boone Logan.
Beyond that, the Brewers have added a bunch of other low-leverage players — catcher Christian Bethancourt and relievers J.J. Hoover, Ernesto Frieri, Michael Brady and Erik Davis. (Nobody would blame you if you haven't heard of any of those players before.)
But maybe the Brewers have just been saving their cash for one of the big guys, with Ken Rosenthal confirming a report Sunday night Milwaukee is not only one of the teams in on Yu Darvish, but they've even made a formal offer:
Source confirms: #Brewers have made offer to Darvish. First reported: Yahoo Japan.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 22, 2018
The Brewers securing Darvish or one of the other top pitchers — Jake Arrieta or Alex Cobb — would be a huge development in their effort to keep pace with the Cubs and Cardinals in the division.
Milwaukee was a surprise contender in 2017 before they faded down the stretch. The main reason they hung around the top of the NL Central all year was a shockingly-effective pitching staff.
However, the Brewers have some serious pitching questions long-term that need to be addressed. Beyond Chase Anderson and Zach Davies in the rotation, there are no sure things.
Jimmy Nelson underwent shoulder surgery last fall and it's currently unknown when he can be counted on again, though things are progressing ahead of schedule. Junior Guerra — the 33-year-old right-hander formerly of the White Sox — went 9-3 with a 2.81 ERA in 20 starts in 2016 but followed that up with some serious struggles in 2017 (5.12 ERA, 1.48 WHIP).
Chacin, 30, was good in 2017 (13-10, 3.89 ERA, 1.27 WHIP), but struggled with health and inconsistent performance in the five seasons prior. Gallardo, 31, has a 5.57 ERA and 1.55 WHIP over the last two seasons.
All that adds up to a staff that doesn't inspire much confidence behind a high-powered offense led by Ryan Braun, Travis Shaw, Domingo Santana, Eric Thames plus up-and-comers Lewis Brinson and Orlando Arcia.
Adding Arrieta or Darvish would certainly go quite far in improving the Brewers' biggest weakness and even Cobb could be a serious game-changer in Milwaukee.
As an interesting footnote to the whole Darvish rumor, the minute after Rosenthal confirmed the report, the Brewers official Twitter account took a shot at the Cubs:
Cubs Twitter — never one to back down from a good-natured social media spat — responded Monday morning with a sick comeback: