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Brewers showing interest in FAs Arrieta, Lynn

Milwaukee studying free-agent market for addition to rotation
MLB.com @jonmorosi

The Brewers were one of this year's most charming stories, posting the franchise's best record since 2011 and finishing one game back of a postseason berth.

Milwaukee stunned many observers by entering the All-Star break with a 5 1/2-game lead in the National League Central. And now Brewers general manager David Stearns is poised to address perhaps the biggest reason the Cubs ultimately eclipsed his team in the second half: a shortage of proven high-end starting pitching.

The Brewers were one of this year's most charming stories, posting the franchise's best record since 2011 and finishing one game back of a postseason berth.

Milwaukee stunned many observers by entering the All-Star break with a 5 1/2-game lead in the National League Central. And now Brewers general manager David Stearns is poised to address perhaps the biggest reason the Cubs ultimately eclipsed his team in the second half: a shortage of proven high-end starting pitching.

Hot Stove Tracker

The Brewers are showing interest in virtually every prominent free-agent starting pitcher, sources say. That includes Jake Arrieta, who won a World Series ring and NL Cy Young Award over 4 1/2 seasons with the Cubs, and Lance Lynn, another longtime division rival with the Cardinals.

Ideally, the Brewers would love to add a starting pitcher who misses bats. Jimmy Nelson, the lone Brewers pitcher with more than 140 strikeouts this year, is out indefinitely following shoulder surgery and is expected to miss part of the 2018 season.

Among the six pitchers who finished 2017 in the Milwaukee rotation -- Chase Anderson, Zach Davies, Brent Suter, Brandon Woodruff, Junior Guerra and Aaron Wilkerson -- none has thrown 200 innings in a single season, in the Majors, Minors or a combination of the two.

The Brewers have the financial flexibility to make a substantial pitching addition. They carried payrolls in excess of $100 million earlier this decade, and their guaranteed commitments for 2018 -- not including salary arbitration raises -- total barely more than $30 million. In that sense, the Brewers' ability to pursue Arrieta or Lynn is tied to their relatively inexpensive core of position players, including Travis Shaw, Domingo Santana, Orlando Arcia and Eric Thames.

One wild card: The Brewers have yet to decide how they plan to utilize dynamic left-hander Josh Hader in 2018. Hader has struggled with control issues as a starter in the Minors but was dominant as a reliever this year, permitting a WHIP of 0.986 over 47 2/3 innings in the Majors.

Clock ticking on Donaldson
The Blue Jays have yet to make a formal multiyear extension offer to 2015 American League MVP Award winner Josh Donaldson this offseason, one source told MLB.com. That's not necessarily surprising, since team officials and Donaldson's agent will have time to discuss salary figures during the arbitration process in December and January. But with each passing day, it becomes more difficult to imagine Donaldson signing a long-term deal that prevents him from hitting free agency after the '18 season.

Video: Atkins discusses his chat with Donaldson, extension

With their recent moves, Blue Jays officials have conveyed that they hope to compete in 2018 before potentially transitioning to a younger roster after the upcoming season. Donaldson, Marco Estrada, J.A. Happ and Steve Pearce all will begin the '18 season on expiring contracts.

Another implication of posting system
Remember Dennis Sarfate? He pitched in the Majors for the Brewers, Astros and Orioles from 2006-09, mostly as a reliever.

He's 36 years old, and he was just named 2017 MVP of Japan's Pacific League, following a dominant season as the closer for the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks. MLB teams are showing interest in him now, a source said, but he can't return to North America for one last chance at pitching in the Majors unless the Hawks post him.

And Sarfate -- like Shohei Ohtani -- must wait on officials from MLB, Nippon Professional Baseball and the MLB Players Association to agree on a new posting system.

Jon Paul Morosi is a reporter for MLB.com and MLB Network. He has also covered baseball for FOX Sports, the Detroit Free Press, and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

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

Milwaukee Brewers