The saga that is the Milwaukee Brewers’ 2011-2012 offseason has yet to officially begin, yet there have been no shortage of rumors and speculation surrounding the reigning NL Central champions as they embark on the post-Prince Fielder era.
Among the many personnel decisions and player arbitration disputes ready to rear their ugly heads toward GM Doug Melvin is, as we’ve already alluded to, whether or not the club has enough dough to bring back their luminary veggie-consuming first baseman. Fielder, who amassed nothing short of MVP-caliber numbers in each of the last six seasons with the club, is set to become an unrestricted free agent in just a few short weeks, and will likely set the market for some of the top free agents available this winter.
While many Brewers fans have become aware of the fact that their slugging first baseman will in fact not be back with the club in 2012 and the foreseeable future, there are other topics up for discussion regarding what their beloved hometown team intends on accomplishing this offseason.
One such topic will be whether or not Melvin intends on bringing in more pitching, particularly starting pitching, with Fielder’s massive contract coming off the books this offseason.
Fetching Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum via trade last winter drastically improved Milwaukee’s output on the mound from previous years. In 2010, the Brewers ranked 26th in MLB with a team 4.58 ERA and settled for just 75 quality starts from their starters. The presence of the two newly-acquired starters improved the rotation twofold.
For one, Milwaukee finished the 2011 regular season with MLB’s ninth-best team ERA (3.63), and would amass 98 quality starts — a healthy 23 more than the previous year. Moreover, it would also guarantee at least one more season of Greinke and Marcum, as they’re both under contract through 2012.
Still, the Brewers fell short of their goal of reaching the World Series largely due to the staff’s ineffective postseason performances. Of the eight playoff teams, Milwaukee ranked second to last in team ERA (5.81) and would allow opponents to bat .294—by far and away the highest BAA of any postseason starting rotation, which begs the question: Should Melvin be in the works for acquiring a big-name free agent starter this winter?
According to Bob Wolfley of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, that could very well be the case, reporting how the Brewers will be among the leading contenders for Rangers left-hander C.J. Wilson this winter.
“Baseball writer Buster Olney puts the Brewers in the contenders’ group for Wilson.”
In 2011, Wilson led all Rangers pitchers in wins (16), ERA (2.94) and strikeouts (206), and will be one of the most coveted free agent starters roaming the market this offseason.
If Milwaukee does in fact intend on pursuing the outspoken southpaw, it will likely need to surrender a large chunk of change to do so. Making $7 million in 2011, Wilson made more than any Brewer starter last season, excluding Zack Greinke and Randy Wolf. Granted, his four postseason outings were nothing to write home about—going 0-3 with a 6.57 ERA, 22 SO, and 17 BB in just 24.2 IP—but he will nonetheless be a household name among baseball GMs this winter.
It may not be imperative for Milwaukee to acquire and sign the 30-year-old Wilson to a brand-new contract this winter, but it could certainly be an opportunity worth exploring.