The Brewers received dire news in September when doctors announced that starting pitcher Jimmy Nelson would need shoulder surgery, and would miss a "chunk" of the 2018 season. Milwaukee has starting pitching help at the top of their to-do list this winter, and have interest in free agent right-hander Jake Arrieta, according to FOXSports' Jon Morosi.
The Brewers have watched Arrieta's rise to dominance up close, facing Arrieta 15 times across his six-year career. Arrieta, 31, has seen his numbers slip slowly since winning the 2015 NL Cy Young with a 1.77 ERA and league-leading 5.9 H/9 and 0.4 HR/9 across 229.0 innings. While 2017 was not nearly as dominant, Arrieta was healthy enough to make 30 starts with a 3.53 ERA, and a weak starting pitching market should work in his favor this winter. The 2016 All-Star is expected to net a deal in the range of four to five years, worth around $100 million.
Milwaukee has very little money committed to either 2019 or 2020, with Roster Resource projecting about a $65 million payroll post-arbitration. This gives the Brewers lots of room to work toward an agreement with Arrieta, even if demands head toward $25-30million per year. The Brewers were mentioned in rumors for both Jose Quintana and Sonny Gray around the trade deadline this summer, though trade talks fell through due to (justifiably) lofty prospect prices for the cost-controlled starters. Arrieta may cost Milwaukee a lot of money, but he won't cost them talent—The Brewers can hold onto the top prospects in their loaded system as they gear for a second push at the NL Central crown in 2018.
With the Cubs firing pitching coach Chris Bosio, who aided in Arrieta's resurgence as a major league starter over the past four seasons, the former-Cub is unlikely to re-sign with Chicago. Should Milwaukee meet his demands, Arrieta would undoubtedly slot in as the number one starter in the Brewers' rotation, with Chase Anderson, Zach Davies, Junior Guerra, and Brandon Woodruff filling out the 5-man.