Top 5 Free Agent Starting Pitchers Milwaukee Brewers Should Consider Signing

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Top 5 Free Agent Starting Pitchers Milwaukee Brewers Should Consider Signing

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Jeff Curry-US PRESSWIRE

The Milwaukee Brewers will certainly be an active team once the winter meetings begin in approximately three weeks. The Brewers will be looking to overhaul their bullpen while rumors are circulating at a possible run at free agent outfielder Josh Hamilton. On the other hand, what Milwaukee really needs to do is consider another veteran starting pitcher to go along with ace Yovani Gallardo.

The starting rotation for the Brewers saw drastic changes throughout the 2012 MLB season. Chris Narveson and Shaun Marcum went down with serious injuries, while Zack Greinke and Randy Wolf were removed from the team. Milwaukee found out they have several talented starters in the minor leagues as Michael Fiers, Mark Rogers, and Wily Peralta spent time in the rotation.

The Brewers must now decide who is worthy of a full time job as a starter and who will help the team as a reliever out of the bullpen. The good news is Milwaukee has several pitching candidates to build within the organization, which is what every team dreams about doing. However, I still believe it would be wise for general manager Doug Melvin to acquire a veteran arm in free agency to ensure late season success, as well as, confidence if the Brewers manage to make the postseason.

The following are five free agent starting pitchers Milwaukee should consider looking at this off-season. Melvin and owner Mark Attanasio must sit down with at least three of these players during the winter meetings to see if there is a possibility to work out a contract.

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5. Joe Saunders

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Ed Szczepanski-US PRESSWIRE

Joe Saunders will not be Milwaukee’s first choice but is certainly someone the Brewers can fall back on. Saunders was traded from the Arizona Diamondbacks to the Baltimore Orioles where he helped the team clinch a postseason berth for the first time since 1997. The left-hander posted a 3-3 record with a 3.63 earned run average in 44 2/3 innings with Baltimore.

If Milwaukee is looking for a durable arm that is consistent in the postseason, then Saunders is their man. The 31-year-old has tossed an average of 175 innings over the past five years and pitched very well against two high-powered offenses in the playoffs. Saunders went a combined 1-0 with a 1.59 ERA and nine strikeouts against the Texas Rangers in the single-elimination Wild Card and the New York Yankees in the ALDS.

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4. Edwin Jackson

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Kevin Jairaj-US PRESSWIRE

Edwin Jackson went 10-11 with a 4.03 ERA with the Washington Nationals this past season. The win-loss record and earned run average are not enticing but Jackson is still a talented pitcher with plenty to offer. The 7.97 batters per nine innings is the best strikeout rate of his nine-year career and his 58 walks are the lowest since he became a full time starter.

Jackson will be looking to acquire an expensive multi-year contract that may be a bit too pricey for Milwaukee’s liking. However, if the Brewers were able to negotiate a reasonable deal then Jackson would be a perfect addition to the starting rotation.

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3. Ryan Dempster

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Kevin Jairaj-US PRESSWIRE

Ryan Dempster posted a 12-8 record, 3.38 ERA and 153 strikeouts with the Chicago Cubs and Texas Rangers in 2012. The 35-year-old will be looking to sign one last multi-year contract and the Brewers just might be the team to give it to him. Considering Jeff Suppan and Randy Wolf did not pan out exactly how Milwaukee envisioned when the team signed them to big-time deals, there is certainly a reason for the Brewers to be cautious around Dempster.

On the other hand, Dempster has struck out 8.4 batters per nine innings over the past three seasons and has terrorized Milwaukee hitting for several years. In 200 1/3 innings against the Brewers, Dempster is 16-6 with a 2.65 ERA. The right-hander may be getting up there in age, but he certainly could be an effective starter in Milwaukee’s young rotation.

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2. Kyle Lohse

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Pool Photo-US PRESSWIRE

Kyle Lohse is someone the Brewers should legitimately consider adding to the team. Lohse had a phenomenal season and the best statistical season of his career. He went 16-3 with a 2.86 ERA and 143 strikeouts in 211 innings this past season. There is no question several teams will show an interest in Lohse, as it appears he is willing to sign with the top bidder.

However, considering Milwaukee finished the 2012 season with the top offense in the National League, Lohse may take a bit of a pay cut to sign with a team that could get him another ring. Lohse’s age (34 years old) and the fact that his agent Scott Boras is looking for a three-year, $45 million contract are certainly reasons for the Brewers to move on. But if Lohse looks Milwaukee’s way this winter the organization must certainly do whatever they can to acquire him.

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1. Zack Greinke

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Eric Hartline-US PRESSWIRE

I know, I know, the odds of the Brewers signing Greinke are not good. The top pitching free agent this off-season goes to Greinke, which means everyone who has money is going to ask for a sit down. However, the Brewers have a direct line to the right-hander as Greinke has made it known how much he enjoys Milwaukee. This does not mean he will leave $30 million on the table to pitch for the Brewers, but it does mean he will keep the team informed on what kind of offers he will receive in the near future.

Melvin has already stated that as much as he loves Greinke as a person and as a pitcher, it will be very difficult to bring him back. With that being said, Attanasio could certainly find a way financially to sign Greinke if the two sides can come to a reasonable agreement. On the other hand, Greinke might be offered so much money by an eager team that the Brewers become nothing more than a fond memory for the starter. If there is even the slightest chance Milwaukee believes they can sign him then Melvin and Attanasio must pull the trigger.

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