The Brewers have only one big contract on the books. Left fielder Ryan Braun has three years and approximately $57 million remaining on what was a five-year, $105-million extension. Making an even bigger commitment to Darvish would be a gamble for the Brewers considering he is 31 years old and likely has his best years behind him.
Time will tell whether the Brewers' offer is enough to push aside the other teams showing interest and get him to come to Milwaukee, or if there will be further negotiations. Darvish and Jake Arrieta are considered the top starters on the market and the Brewers were linked speculatively more to Arrieta than Darvish until this point.
Over the course of this unusually slow "hot stove" season, the Brewers also were believed to have interest in free-agent pitchers Alex Cobb and Lance Lynn, who are on a lower tier than Darvish and Arrieta. One advantage of signing Darvish instead of Arrieta is that the Brewers would not have to surrender a draft pick to the Dodgers, who were not allowed to make a qualifying offer.
Splitting last season between the Rangers and Dodgers, Darvish went 10-12 with a 3.86 earned run average. He made solid starts for Los Angeles in the first two rounds of the postseason but was hammered twice by Houston in the World Series, including his Game 7 start, pitching a total of only 3 1/3 innings while allowing nine hits and eight runs (21.60 ERA).
Afterward, the Astros indicated in a report that Darvish had been tipping his pitches, which seemed quite possible considering the results.
Darvish missed the entire 2015 season and nearly half of 2016 while recovering from Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery. But he pitched 186 2/3 innings last season, allowing only 159 hits with 58 walks and 209 strikeouts.
Darvish has been a huge strikeout pitcher since leaving Japan to sign with the Rangers, including a major-league best of 277 in 2013. In 832 1/3 innings in the majors, he has recorded 1,021 strikeouts while yielding only 674 hits and 307 walks. His record is 56-42 with a 3.42 ERA in 131 career starts.
Until Nelson returns, the top starters in the Brewers' rotation are Chase Anderson, Zach Davies and Chacin. Others in the mix to start include Gallardo, lefty Brent Suter and rookies Brandon Woodruff and Aaron Wilkerson. Left-hander Josh Hader, a starter in the minors, likely will reprise the bullpen role from his rookie year.
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