MILWAUKEE — Matt Garza reportedly was near an agreement on a four-year contract with the Brewers, who are looking to bolster a rotation that was among the best during the second half of last season.
The deal is for $52 million, according to multiple reports, but the team later released a statement saying negotiations were ongoing.
Garza, 30, is arguably the top starter left on the market after Masahiro Tanaka signed Wednesday with the Yankees. Garza was 10-6 with a 3.82 ERA and 136 strikeouts in 155⅓ innings last season with the Cubs and Rangers.
The right-hander began the past three seasons with the Cubs before a July trade to the Rangers. He has a 3.84 ERA over eight seasons in the majors, including three with the Rays (2008-10).
Garza would join a rotation expected to include Kyle Lohse, Yovani Gallardo, Wily Peralta, Marco Estrada and Tyler Thornburg. Gallardo is entering the final guaranteed season of his contract and could become trade bait with Garza in the fold. Thornburg is relatively unproven and could end up in a relief role.
That depth could come in handy, because Garza has dealt with health concerns. He has spent time on the disabled list each of the past three seasons, including six weeks in 2013 with a rib-cage strain. In 2011 and 2012, he missed starts with elbow issues.
Garza was in Milwaukee on Thursday for a physical exam.
Lester wants to stay: Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester, eligible for free agency after the 2014 season, said he wants to remain with Boston, and he expressed a willingness to take a discount in order to do so.
"These guys are my No. 1 priority," Lester, 30, said. "I want to be here till they rip this jersey off my back. I understand that to stay here, you're not going to get a free agent deal. … It's not possible. You're bidding against one team. I understand you're going to take a discount to stay. Do I want to do that? Absolutely."
Glavine questions A-Rod: Hall of Famer Tom Glavine said Alex Rodriguez appears to be "grasping at straws" in his lawsuit against the Players Association. Glavine was a longtime union leader and participated in negotiations during the 1994-95 strike. He said knowing the people in the union as he does, he finds it "hard to believe" that Rodriguez is claiming they didn't do their job when they represented the Yankees star third baseman in the grievance that lowered his 211-game suspension to 162 games. A-Rod sued the union and Major League Baseball last week in an effort to overturn the penalty.
Piniella Heads to M's Hall: The Mariners will induct former manager Lou Piniella into the team's Hall of Fame on Aug. 9. The Tampa native and former Rays manager will become the eighth member inducted. Piniella, 70, was Seattle's manager from 1993-2002, leading the club to its first division title in 1995 when it rallied to win the AL West. He also was there in 2001 when Seattle matched the major-league record with 116 wins in the regular season. … In other M's news, outfielder Endy Chavez, 36, will remain with the club and report to spring training with a minor-league deal.
Giants: Infielder Joaquin Arias agreed to a $2.6 million, two-year deal to avoid salary arbitration. The 29-year-old hit .271 during his second season with the Giants in 2013.