MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers didn't land Yu Darvish, but perhaps his move to the Cubs will help move the rest of the pitching market.
According to multiple reports Saturday, the Chicago Cubs were in agreement with Darvish on a six-year, $126 million contract pending a physical exam. The Cubs didn't immediately comment on the reports, but it appears Darvish chose Chicago over other clubs looking at starting pitchers, including the Dodgers, Twins and Brewers.
It marked the second time in 6 1/2 months that Milwaukee's chief National League Central rival snapped up a top starting pitcher who had been linked to the Brewers. Milwaukee general manager David Stearns had extensive talks with the White Sox in July about left-hander Jose Quintana, but he went to the Cubs instead for a package of prospects.
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Darvish himself seemed to confirm via his playful Twitter feed that the Brewers were among his suitors, though Milwaukee officials never confirmed that. He could have helped fortify a Milwaukee rotation that already added free-agent right-hander Jhoulys Chacin but will be without ace Jimmy Nelson at the start of 2018 while he completes a comeback from shoulder surgery. At the moment, the Brewers' season-opening rotation is set to include Chase Anderson, Zach Davies and Chacin, with a group of pitchers that includes Brent Suter, Brandon Woodruff, Yovani Gallardo, Junior Guerra and Aaron Wilkerson competing for two open spots.
The Cubs have Darvish, Jonathan Lester, Kyle Hendricks, Quintana and Tyler Chatwood.
Stearns and the Brewers, however, have money to spend and an eye on the starting pitching market, which remains deep. Darvish's deal could move things along for former Cub Jacob Arrieta, the consensus best pitcher available as of Saturday afternoon, plus Lance Lynn, Alex Cobb, Andrew Cashner and others. The trade market also presents opportunities, like the Rays' Chris Archer and Jake Odorizzi, the Tigers' Michael Fulmer and the D-backs' Patrick Corbin.
The Brewers' payroll currently projects at $85 million-$90 million, if one accounts for deferred salaries and pending agreements with pre-arbitration players. The business supported a payroll in excess of $100 million as recently as 2015 before slipping to $50 million-$60 million in the past two years after the Brewers opted to rebuild.