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Crew's free-agent crop contemplate future

Garza considers retirement; Walker wants to test market; Sogard, Swarzak interested in returning
MLB.com @AdamMcCalvy

ST. LOUIS -- Anthony Swarzak and Eric Sogard expressed strong interest in signing back with the Brewers. Neil Walker was open to that prospect, but made it clear he wants to test the open market for the first time. And Matt Garza conceded he may have reached the end of a Major League career that has spanned a dozen seasons.

That quartet of players represents the free-agent crop for the Brewers, who began saying their goodbyes Sunday morning in the wake of being eliminated from postseason contention.

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ST. LOUIS -- Anthony Swarzak and Eric Sogard expressed strong interest in signing back with the Brewers. Neil Walker was open to that prospect, but made it clear he wants to test the open market for the first time. And Matt Garza conceded he may have reached the end of a Major League career that has spanned a dozen seasons.

That quartet of players represents the free-agent crop for the Brewers, who began saying their goodbyes Sunday morning in the wake of being eliminated from postseason contention.

Full Game Coverage

"I'm not expecting much," said Garza, who posted a 4.94 ERA in 24 games (22 starts) for the Brewers in the final season of a franchise-record four-year, $50 million contract. "I've had a couple down seasons and I've done it for 12 years. I'll go home and see what's next."

Garza said it would be a family decision. He and wife Serina have six children, from 2-year-old twins to a 15-year-old daughter who is a sophomore in high school.

In his 12 big league seasons with the Twins, Rays, Cubs, Rangers and Brewers, Garza threw a no-hitter and twice made it to the postseason with Tampa Bay, winning 2008 American League Championship Series MVP honors for a team that fell to the Phillies in the World Series.

Video: STL@MIL: Garza fans Carpenter in the 1st

Garza's body prevented him from doing more. Garza found his way to the disabled list in each of the last seven seasons, including all four of his years with the Brewers. He threw 528 1/3 innings for Milwaukee with a 4.65 ERA.

"I have no regrets," Garza said. "I've done everything my way. I'm 33 and I have 12 seasons in the big leagues, so it's a lot to talk about."

The Brewers' other free agents are certain to sign somewhere, and Sogard and Swarzak hope that is in Milwaukee. Sogard rebounded from missing 2016 with a knee injury to appear at four different defensive positions for the Brewers, and entered Sunday with a .395 on-base percentage in 295 plate appearances after a mid-May callup from the Minors. Swarzak pitched 29 times following a July trade from the White Sox, holding opponents to a .202 average with a 2.48 ERA.

Video: PIT@MIL: Swarzak strikes out Stewart, side in the 8th

Swarzak's numbers include a loss on Saturday that eliminated the Brewers from the National League Wild Card race.

"There's still room to get better, and hopefully everybody in Brewers Nation gets to see a better Anthony Swarzak next year, because I want to stay here," Swarzak said. "I want to make another push here.

"I love the group. Young, talented, passionate. That's all you could ask for. I think the communication line is open."

Walker, meanwhile, expressed an open mind. Last year, coming off September back surgery, he felt compelled to accept a qualifying offer from the Mets rather than hit the market as an injury risk who would have cost another team a Draft pick.

Video: MIL@MIA: Walker extends the lead with a grand slam

This time, Walker is doubly exempt from being saddled with a qualifying offer because he has received one before, and because he changed teams mid-season. At 32, and for the first time since breaking into the big leagues in 2009, Walker is truly a free agent.

"I hope so. I think so," said Walker when asked whether he expects the Brewers to be among his suitors. "I think it is a good fit. It's an exciting place, a place that has a lot to look forward to, and I think the best baseball days are yet to come.

"At the same time, I feel like I slighted myself for playing for eight full years in the big leagues and not giving myself at least an opportunity, as far as free agency, to see what else is out there. This is the type of team I'm going to be looking at. One that's ready to win now and one that I can help."

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Milwaukee Brewers, Matt Garza, Eric Sogard, Anthony Swarzak, Neil Walker