With JJ Hardy finally dealt, it's time for Brewers GM Doug Melvin to focus on fixing the starting rotation. We've already looked at Erik Bedard and Mark Mulder as possible answers, and now let's take a look at a former Brewer who is willing to come home again: Doug Davis.
Davis pitched in Milwaukee from 2003-2007 before being traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Johnny Estrada. Davis compiled a 37-36 record for the Brewers with a 3.92 ERA in 111 starts.
He has turned himself into one of the most durable pitchers in the game. Over the past six seasons, he has only made fewer than 33 starts in a year once, in 2008. That season, Davis was diagnosed with thyroid cancer.
Incredibly, Davis made two starts after receiving the news before having surgery to remove the cancerous thyroid. He missed only six weeks that year while recovering from the surgery and chemotherapy before returning to the Diamondbacks. He finished the year making every start after his return, and he did the same in 2009.
The Brewers tried to acquire Davis in the 2009 season but were unsuccessful. In August, they put a waiver claim in on him but were never able to reach an agreement with the Diamondbacks for compensation. Melvin refused to give up any substantial prospects for a pitcher that would be a free agent six weeks after the trade.
The Brewers could use a reliable arm like Davis in their rotation. Dave Bush, Jeff Suppan, and Manny Parra all missed significant time in 2009 due to injury or ineffectiveness. Pairing Davis with Yovani Gallardo as a stabilizing force at the top of the rotation that would lessen the strain on an overworked bullpen in 2009.
Davis has also hinted a return to the Brewers could be possible given the right circumstances. He's hoping to sign at least a three-year deal this winter. All signs and tests point to him being cancer free. He only takes thyroid medication and goes in for an annual checkup along with blood work as part of his current treatment.
Most experts feel Davis could command around $24 million over the course of a three-year contract. That is far from an outrageous amount given the contracts of some pitchers with lesser durability and success than Davis.
$8 million a year would account for more than half of what Melvin is allowed to spend on pitching this winter. He will likely be leery on giving out that much to one single pitcher due to past contract failures like Jeff Suppan. The Brewers can't sustain another high-priced bust from a starting pitcher and hope to remain in playoff contention every year.
Anything more than a three-year, $24 million deal for Davis would be a grave error on Melvin's part. If Davis would be open to taking less for a return trip to Milwaukee, Melvin should jump at the chance to acquire him. A three-year, $18 million contract for Davis would work very well for the Brewers, but would it be enough for Davis? It would give the team enough leftover money to obtain at least one more quality arm.
The free agent market will yield much higher priced options than Doug Davis. It will also feature pitchers capable of having far better years statistically. Very few pitchers, however, have been as reliable and consistent as Davis. He would be a great addition to the Brewers' rotation as long as his price tag doesn't hinder the team from acquiring more pitching talent.
To read more by Jesse Motiff, click here .