There has been speculation all winter that the Milwaukee Brewers would jump in at some point on one of the top free-agent starting pitchers, and apparently they finally decided to do so with Yu Darvish.
Reports out of both Japan and the United States on Sunday indicated the Brewers made an offer to Darvish, considered one of the top starters on the free-agent market. The club's policy is not to comment on specific reports on free agents or trade speculation and general manager David Stearns did not respond to inquiries.
Darvish tweeted a link to the Yahoo Japan story that needed to be translated to English.
That report stated that the Brewers had made an offer to Darvish and were one of six teams in the hunt, joining the Minnesota Twins, New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs, Houston Astros (presumably out since trading for Gerrit Cole) and Texas Rangers. Before being traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers for the playoff push last season, Darvish had pitched his entire career in the majors with the Rangers.
Later in the day, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic tweeted that a source told him the same thing.
Even later came confirmation from Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports of the Brewers' offer.
There has been ongoing speculation that the Brewers would make a move on a premier free agent pitcher for two reasons: 1. They have financial flexibility after operating with a payroll below $60 million last season. 2. They need starting pitching help, especially with right-hander Jimmy Nelson recovering from shoulder surgery and expected to miss "a chunk" of the first half of the 2018 season.
Until this point, the Brewers had been shopping at the other end of the pitching market, signing Jhoulys Chacin to a two-year, $15.5 million deal and former Milwaukee starter Yovani Gallardo to a non-guaranteed, $2 million contract for 2018. But, with the free-agent market moving at a historically slow pace, the Brewers might have decided Darvish would have to take less money than desired.
At the outset of the winter, Darvish was projected to get a six-year deal for about $150 million, and it would be surprising if the Brewers jumped in at that level. They are in the midst of a large-scale rebuilding program and general manager David Stearns repeatedly has said the team needs to develop players from within its system, including pitchers.
The Brewers took an unexpected leap forward in 2017, winning 86 games and finishing just one victory short of the second wild-card berth in the National League. With that backdrop and some financial flexibility, they apparently decided they could make a substantial offer to Darvish.