COMMENTARY | It has always come down to pitching for the Milwaukee Brewers.
A team that perennially sends out a strong lineup barring injury or suspension, the Brewers have historically been an organization that fails to develop young arms. The well ran dry after making a move for Zack Greinke before the 2011 season, and, nearly three years later, Milwaukee once again lacks a true ace.
Over the past few seasons, the Brewers have been able to replenish the farm system to a degree, but it is still a long ways away from breaking out of the bottom of the barrel and becoming one of the best in baseball, just like it was in the early-to-mid 2000s.
Baseball America recently ranked Milwaukee's farm system as the worst in baseball, although that largely had to do with the graduation of several players to the big league squad.
The Brewers simply don't have the funds to compete with large markets for free-agent starting pitching. And when you take a look at the top available starters, there are some good names out there, but none that you can completely count on to become your ace.
Milwaukee has been able to reach the postseason twice in the past six seasons because it had a bona-fide No. 1 pitcher -- in 2008 with CC Sabathia and in 2011 with Zack Greinke. The supporting cast was solid in those instances, as well, and the Brewers currently feature a rotation that would be ideal for surrounding an ace.
Kyle Lohse is more of a No. 2 or No. 3, as is Yovani Gallardo despite the hopes Milwaukee had of turning him into a No. 1. Wily Peralta is still progressing and shown flashes of brilliance, but before he figures out how to put it all together and compose himself on the mound, he is a No. 4 at the very best. Beyond that, Marco Estrada, Tyler Thornburg, Jimmy Nelson and Johnny Hellweg are all in the mix.
For a team to make a run at the postseason as well as the World Series, a true ace in the starting rotation is basically a necessity. The Brewers aren't a team interested in tanking, but they lack the one player that will put them over the top, and David Price could be that player.
It's no secret that Tampa Bay will be shopping around Price this offseason. With Price, 28, set to enter arbitration, his price tag is about to become too expensive for a team infamous for penny-pinching. In 2013, Price battled injury but still managed to go 10-8 with a 3.33 ERA.
There are several obstacles the Brewers would have to overcome to even have a shot at bringing in Price. Money comes to mind, as Milwaukee would have to be willing to make a long-term financial commitment to Price. There is also the question of if the Brewers have enough to send back in return, as the Rays' asking price is sky-high.
What the Brewers have working in their favor is that they have been down this road before, and teams around the league are well aware. They have unloaded the farm for Sabathia as well as Greinke -- it's paid off each time, by the way -- so what would stop them from doing so for Price?
Nine Tampa Bay Rays are unrestricted free agents, including the resurgent James Loney and multiple bullpen arms. It will undoubtedly be looking for pitching in return, as well as some offensive bargains.
In that case, Milwaukee has some promising young arms, such as Nelson, the organization's No. 1 prospect according to MLB.com, Hellweg, Peralta, Thornburg and the recently drafted Devin Williams. There were also young position players that came on strong like Khris Davis and Scooter Gennett.
While the return rate is high and the financial impacts are also a concern, the biggest issue for the Brewers might be competition.
It's fair to say that half of baseball is interested in the services of the former Cy Young winner, considering he has two more years of team control, which also makes the asking price even higher. There are other teams with far more to offer than Milwaukee -- it's just a matter of how much teams are willing to part ways with.
Price landing in Milwaukee is unlikely, but it can't be ruled out based on the type of moves the Brewers have made recently. They are probably a few years away from having a minor league system worthy of making such a high-profile deal.
But Price is the type of arm the Brewers need to put them over the top, so we'll see if Doug Melvin, Mark Attanasio and company make a legitimate run at David Price.
Dave Radcliffe is a resident of a little known Milwaukee suburb who is an avid follower of Wisconsin sports. He has contributed to JSOnline, as a featured columnist on other sites and publications, and been a guest on multiple sports talk radio shows.
You can get the discussion going and follow Dave on Twitter @DaveRadcliffe_.
- Sports & Recreation
- Milwaukee Brewers
- Zack Greinke
- Tampa Bay Rays