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  • Should The Brewers Invoke The Spirit Of Bobby Bonilla To Keep Corbin Burnes?


    Harold Hutchison

    Bobby Bonilla Day is often considered a time to mock the New York Mets for the $1.19 million they pay the former switch-hitting slugger every July 1. That being said, the Brewers, who face the impending free agency of Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, and Willy Adames, might want to look to Bonilla for inspiration, not mockery.

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    This is nothing new, as CBS Sports notes. But it may be the answer the Brewers are looking for to keep Corbin Burnes in Milwaukee for an extended period.

    There is no doubt that Burnes is the best starting pitcher the Brewers have seen since Ben Sheets in his prime. Baseball-Reference lays the numbers out clearly: 11.7 strikeouts per nine innings, a 4.79 K/BB ratio, career ERA+ of 129. In terms of single-season performance, he has two places in the top five for strikeouts (243 and 234, good for second and fourth), K/BB ratio (6.882 and 4.765, also suitable for second and fourth), and WHIP (0.940 and 0.965, holding the top two slots). Regarding career marks, he is at or near the top in several categories, beating well-known Brewer aces like Teddy Higuera, Mike Caldwell, Yovanni Gallardo, and Ben Sheets. He is climbing the ranks in others.

    Burnes, a top-10 Cy Young candidate for the last three years, clearly deserves to get paid, and the best-case scenario for the Brewers is that he stays as the ace of the rotation for a long time. According to MLB Trade Rumors, he is projected to receive an arbitration-based salary of $11.4 million in 2023. But suppose the Brewers offer an eight-year, $260 million deal, with a $10 million signing bonus and $90 million deferred to be paid out over 30 years?

    The contract could be structured like this:

    2023: $20 million, plus a $5 million bonus, $10 million deferred
    2024: $20 million, plus a $5 million bonus, $10 million deferred
    2025: $20 million, $10 million deferred
    2026: $20 million, $10 million deferred
    2027: $20 million, $10 million deferred
    2028: $20 million, $10 million deferred
    2029: $20 million, $15 million deferred
    2030: $20 million, $15 million deferred

    Expensive? Yes. But a deal like this might give the Brewers enough room to keep Burnes on board for the rest of the 2020s. It would mean that the Brewers would have $46 million a year committed between Burnes and Christian Yelich from 2023-2028 and $40 million committed in 2029 if the Brewers and Yelich exercise their mutual option.

    It should be noted that Brandon Woodruff has been a shade behind Corbin Burnes in some of these metrics and would be worth extending on his own merits. If Woodruff and Adames were to sign for 6-year, $120 million deals with $30 million deferred over 30 years in an arrangement similar to the Burnes deal, it would mean the Brewers have $76 million committed through 2028 for those four players.

    However, in this case, the Brewers might be able to afford to do just that. The team has a lot of young talent coming up through the minors. In the outfield, Garrett Michell and Sal Frelick will almost certainly be in Milwaukee for most of 2023, and it’s an open question of just how long Joey Weimer and Esteury Ruiz can stay in the minors. Brice Turang seems to be the front-runner for second base, Cam Devanny could force his way to the majors at third base, and Mario Feliciano is an option to split time with Victor Caratini at catcher. This doesn’t include other potential prospect help from Jace Avina, Jackson Chourio, Jeferson Quero, Darrien Miller, Thomas Dillard, Ernesto Martinez, and Xavier Warren – among many other prospects.

    While some of these prospects could be traded, many players could be super options for bench or expanded roles at the major league minimum. In addition, the Brewers could trade Eric Lauer or Adrian Houser to land more prospects. The Brewers could then take the approach used with Freddy Peralta and Aaron Ashby to lock down the most promising in for an extended time at a relatively bargain price.

    Furthermore, the deferred money – a mere $3 million a year for 30 years for Burnes and $5 million a year for 30 years if Woodruff and Adames also get extended – would not be a backbreaker, especially as the league minimum creeps up and salaries continue to rise overall. In other words, while it might seem crazy to go full Bobby Bonilla, the present situation might be crazy enough to work out very well for the Brewers.

    What do they have to lose?

     

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    Did the Mets signing of Bobby Bonilla bring a World Series to New York?  Once again the team wins games not an individual who pitches in 30 games a year.  Burnes will be traded or given a qualifying offer.  Pretty sure the FO has learned their lesson giving large extensions to MVP caliber players.  

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    Hey Clancy-

    What do you think of this deal?

    Phillies get-

    RHP-Corbin Burnes

    OF-Tyrone Taylor 

    Brewers get-

    RHP-Connor Brogden

    RHP-Andrew Painter

    RHP-Mick Abel

    RHP-Griff McGarry

    LHP-Erik Miller

    2B-Hao Yu Lee

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    2 hours ago, Jopal78 said:

    Burnes would be an idiot to defer 90 million dollars in pay over 30 years, when he could get it all up front from some other team anyways. 

    Not really, though. The Brewers can guarantee Burnes a boatload of money today while otherwise, he risks things going badly over the next 24 months waiting for that hypothetical money.

    We all love Corbin Burnes but he was bad as recently as 2019. Then there was a shortened 2020 season. It wouldn't be insane for him to take deferred money today as risk mitigation for tomorrow.

    Some guys bet on themselves and lose. Others take the money today. Either option is fine and I have no idea what Corbin himself is thinking right now.

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    22 minutes ago, Brock Beauchamp said:

    Not really, though. The Brewers can guarantee Burnes a boatload of money today while otherwise, he risks things going badly over the next 24 months waiting for that hypothetical money.

    We all love Corbin Burnes but he was bad as recently as 2019. Then there was a shortened 2020 season. It wouldn't be insane for him to take deferred money today as risk mitigation for tomorrow.

    Some guys bet on themselves and lose. Others take the money today. Either option is fine and I have no idea what Corbin himself is thinking right now.

    I doubt there are too many players who sell themselves short financially because they're afraid of the possibility of injury. Next, given the competitive drive one has to have to even make the major leagues in the first place, there are even fewer who would sell themselves short financially because they're worried their on-field performance might not last. 

    It's a nonsense proposal because the player would be a fool to defer that amount of money over that period of time. Second, I don't think a cost conscious team like the Brewers would ever really contemplate deferring 90 million dollars in salary. 

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    1 hour ago, Brock Beauchamp said:

    Not really, though. The Brewers can guarantee Burnes a boatload of money today while otherwise, he risks things going badly over the next 24 months waiting for that hypothetical money.

    We all love Corbin Burnes but he was bad as recently as 2019. Then there was a shortened 2020 season. It wouldn't be insane for him to take deferred money today as risk mitigation for tomorrow.

    Some guys bet on themselves and lose. Others take the money today. Either option is fine and I have no idea what Corbin himself is thinking right now.

    Trevor Bauer turned a 1yr contract with Cincy, won the Cy Young and got 100mil basically for next 3 years. Pitchers don't bat anymore. Burnes health risk and future money is near minimal. TJ? He'll still have a 40mil per year truck backed up to him in FA.  You're seeing this by the Mets gambling 43mil per on Scherzer and Verlander. The dont have to worry about a batting/running injury. TJ? I'm sure there's insurance that will alleviate some of the cost though not to team payroll. 

    As to the Bonilla idea, let's be serious, money in today's game is just insane compared to the money in the game when Bonilla inked that contract. Theres no reason for Burnes to take that kind of deal. 

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    I would assert that this is exactly the opposite of what we should be doing. That much deferred payment will be a drag on the future success of the team. Big bucks on a short contract would be ideal.

    Buy out two years of FA, give him slight raises over what he would get in arbitration, then basically tack on Verlander's contract.

    I doubt a contract of any kind can be negotiated.

     

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    Kind of a weird comparison.  Bonilla was about to get released and was done in MLB while the Mets owners were struggling after the Madoff scandal.  Bonilla’s agent sought to give the owners relief while ensuring Bobby Bo had income in the future.  This wasn’t built into his contract, but an end-of-the-line restructure

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