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  1. If we are to believe that the Brewers intend to build around Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff, and they want to extend Willy Adames, and they want to do so within a realistic budget, the team may have to trade Christian Yelich. Image courtesy of Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports According to the immensely valuable Cot's Contract, the Brewers' Opening Day, 26-man payroll was a team-high $131,930,160, the 19th-highest in baseball. If we are to assume that Mark Attanasio has directed new President of Baseball Operations Matt Arnold to keep payroll approximately the same, they will need to get creative. According to MLB Trade Rumors, Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff are projected to make $11.4 million and $11.0 million, respectively. Brewers MVP Willy Adames is projected to get a bump to $9.2 million. Recently, we projected what a long-term contract with the two aces (Burnes, Woodruff) might look like. Summary... it's going to be a lot. If Willy Adames was a free agent, he would likely get a contract in the same price range as what Dansby Swanson might get this offseason. The team tendered Hunter Renfroe and then traded him to the Angels for three pitchers rather than pay him about $11 million as well. The Yelich Contract When the Brewers acquired Christian Yelich from the Marlins before the 2018 season, he was in the middle of a seven-year, $49.57 million deal. However, right before the 2020 season, the Brewers and Yelich agreed to replace the final two seasons of that deal with a new nine-year, $215 million deal that includes an option that could take the contract through the 2029 season. There are six years and $156 million remaining on the deal, plus the option. As has been pointed out in the Comments below, Yelich was also given full no-trade protection. Of course, that only means that he would have to OK any trade, not that he is untradeable, but it is another factor making it a difficult situation. The Yelich Production Yelich came to the Brewers and in his first season (2018), he won the National League MVP when he hit .326/.402/.598 (1.000) with 34 doubles, seven triples, 36 home runs, and 110 RBI. He came back in 2019 and was even better (but he finished 2nd in MVP voting). He hit .329/.429/.671 (1.100) with 29 doubles, three triples, 44 homers, and 97 RBI. Over those seasons, he stole 52 bases and was caught just six times. And then, almost inexplicably, his production plummeted. In the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, it's understandable because of the smaller sample size. He hit just .205/.356/.430 (.786) with seven doubles and 12 homers. Great on-base skills, but very low average. However, in 2021, things actually got worse. He hit .248/.362/.373 (.736) with 19 doubles and just nine home runs. In twice as many games, he hit three fewer homers than the previous year. Where did the power go? 2022 was Yelich's age-30 season. He was able to play in 154 games and was a Gold Glove finalist. However, he hit .252/.355/.383 (.738) with 25 doubles and 14 homers. Three consecutive seasons with reduced power has become a theme, a trend... the new normal? Replacing Yelich Losing both corner outfield starters would seem difficult to replace, and that's fair. Tyrone Taylor will likely return. Garrett Mitchell came up in late August and had a solid month. He was named Best Rookie by Brewer Fanatic (video). In 28 games, he hit .311/.373/.459 (.832) with three doubles, two homers, nine RBI, and eight stolen bases (without being caught). Fellow Top 5 Brewers prospects, outfielders Sal Frelick and Joey Wiemer both finished their seasons with two months at Triple-A Nashville. Frelick was the team's top draft pick in 2021 (15th overall) from Boston College. He began the season at High-A Wisconsin where he posted an .847 OPS. He moved up to Double-A Biloxi and in 52 games, he hit .317/.380/.464 (.844) with 12 doubles, three triples, and five home runs. Then he finished his season with 46 games in Nashville where he hit .365/.435/.508 (.943) with 11 doubles, two triples and four homers. Combined, he had 24 steals in 32 attempts. He was named Brewer Fanatic's Minor League Hitter of the Year. Wiemer was the Brewers fourth-round pick in 2020 from Cincinnati. He began the 2022 season at Biloxi. After a huge start, he struggled, but in 84 games, he hit .243/.321/.440 (.761) with 19 doubles, 15 homers and 47 RBI. He also had 25 stolen bases in 26 attempts. He finished the season with Nashville and in 43 games, he hit .287/.368/.520 (.888) with 15 doubles, six homers and 30 RBI. He was 6-for-8 in steal attempts. (Brewers Spotlight with Joey Wiemer: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) Wiemer will turn 24 before the 2023 season, and Frelick will turn 23 shortly after the season begins. Both are good outfielders with strong arms. Speaking of good outfielders, Jackson Chourio was named a Rawlings minor-league Gold Glove winner for his work in center field in 2022. Chourio, who won't turn 19 until after the 2023 season begins, started his season in Extended Spring Training. Less than a month into the season, he was promoted to Low-A Carolina. In 62 games, he hit .324/.373/.600 (.973) with 23 doubles, five triples, and 12 home runs. He moved up to High-A Wisconsin and played in 31 games. He hit .252/.317/.488 (.805) with six doubles and eight homers. He even ended the season by getting a week (six games) with Double-A Biloxi. He had just two hits in 23 at-bats (.087), but one was a double. He was 16-for-20 in stolen base attempts. Chourio certainly isn't ready to join the Brewers quite yet, but at this stage, it's hard to put too many limitations on what the top prospect can do by the end of the 2023 season. Frelick and Wiemer are at least close to being ready to join Mitchell in the Brewers outfield. Will they be able to match the production of Yelich and Renfroe? Probably not, but it may be close. The defense in the outfield would certainly be strong. As important, at least in this conversation and discussion, those three outfield spots would all cost the league minimum or slightly more than it for 2023, 2024, and 2025 seasons before arbitration would hit. That is significant to a team trying to lock up their two aces and potentially their franchise shortstop. A quick glance at the Brewer Fanatic End-of-Season Prospect Rankings show: Jackson Chourio Sal Frelick Joey Wiemer Garrett Mitchell The Return for Yelich This is where things kind of get difficult. Would any team be interested in a 30-year-old former MVP who hasn't hit for average or power the past three seasons, but at least does have a great eye at the plate and solid defense, but is owed another $156 over the next six years? I can't imagine that any team would be interested in acquiring Yelich's contract in a straight trade. If they did, the return might be less than the team received for Hunter Renfroe last week. If the Brewers are willing to eat a large chunk of the remaining contract, maybe up to $40-50 million, they might receive a decent prospect in return. It's also possible any team acquiring Yelich would insist that the Brewers take on a contract or two that they don't want. That's the give-and-take, the negotiations that would make such a deal really difficult to predict or even imagine. What's Going to Happen? Alright, I intentionally wrote the above without having a definitive answer for how this situation could or even should play out. Here is where the discussions and conversations really begin. The reality is that Christian Yelich is not a bad player. He is a solid contributor to a big-league team. He plays good defense. He is solid near the top of the order because he does have good on-base skills. He is capable of hitting doubles and the occasional homer. He runs the bases well. He plays solid defense in left field. The 'problem' is that after arguably being grossly underpaid during the first seven seasons of his big-league career, he has been a big overpaid the past three seasons. FanGraphs says that he was worth 2.3 fWAR in 2022, or about $18.1 million. In 2021, he was at 1.6 fWAR, or $12 million. If I'm a team that is interested in a good player but maybe would prefer to only pay him about $16 million per year, the Brewers might have to throw in about $60 million in a potential trade. I think Matt Arnold and his staff should, and certainly will, have some initial conversations with teams about Yelich just to gauge interest and maybe even get some sense of what a trade might look like. It is hard to imagine that something can get done this offseason. If it can be, then Arnold deserves another promotion and raise. And I don't think that it is necessarily a bad thing to have Christian Yelich and his contract return in 2023. First, he will still be just 31 and he can do a lot of good things on the field. In addition, the three outfield prospects (plus the very young Mitchell) are not necessarily ready to jump into the team's lineup on opening day. Having the stability of the generally-healthy Yelich at the top of the order and in left field can be a positive and allow the youngsters a little more time to develop. In addition, even if Woodruff, Burnes, and Adames all stick around and get pay bumps via arbitration or contract extension, their 2023 numbers won't be as big as they will certainly be in 2024 and beyond. And so they can absorb Yelich's contract and still maintain a reasonable budget and have a competitive team in 2023. In addition, just because we may want the Brewers to reach long-term agreements to keep The Big Three around for a long time does not mean that they will be able to do that. The players may want to experience free agency, or their contract demands might be too much. Those decisions may also determine whether or not the Brewers decide to trade Kolten Wong, or even Eric Lauer? So I would conclude by saying that the Brewers should have a dialogue with other organizations regarding Yelich, but they shouldn't feel like it is mandatory to do this offseason. If they can, and it helps them lock up their aces, great. If not, they still have the talent to make another run in 2023. Your Turn Feel free to share your thoughts in the Comments below. View full article
  2. According to the immensely valuable Cot's Contract, the Brewers' Opening Day, 26-man payroll was a team-high $131,930,160, the 19th-highest in baseball. If we are to assume that Mark Attanasio has directed new President of Baseball Operations Matt Arnold to keep payroll approximately the same, they will need to get creative. According to MLB Trade Rumors, Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff are projected to make $11.4 million and $11.0 million, respectively. Brewers MVP Willy Adames is projected to get a bump to $9.2 million. Recently, we projected what a long-term contract with the two aces (Burnes, Woodruff) might look like. Summary... it's going to be a lot. If Willy Adames was a free agent, he would likely get a contract in the same price range as what Dansby Swanson might get this offseason. The team tendered Hunter Renfroe and then traded him to the Angels for three pitchers rather than pay him about $11 million as well. The Yelich Contract When the Brewers acquired Christian Yelich from the Marlins before the 2018 season, he was in the middle of a seven-year, $49.57 million deal. However, right before the 2020 season, the Brewers and Yelich agreed to replace the final two seasons of that deal with a new nine-year, $215 million deal that includes an option that could take the contract through the 2029 season. There are six years and $156 million remaining on the deal, plus the option. As has been pointed out in the Comments below, Yelich was also given full no-trade protection. Of course, that only means that he would have to OK any trade, not that he is untradeable, but it is another factor making it a difficult situation. The Yelich Production Yelich came to the Brewers and in his first season (2018), he won the National League MVP when he hit .326/.402/.598 (1.000) with 34 doubles, seven triples, 36 home runs, and 110 RBI. He came back in 2019 and was even better (but he finished 2nd in MVP voting). He hit .329/.429/.671 (1.100) with 29 doubles, three triples, 44 homers, and 97 RBI. Over those seasons, he stole 52 bases and was caught just six times. And then, almost inexplicably, his production plummeted. In the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, it's understandable because of the smaller sample size. He hit just .205/.356/.430 (.786) with seven doubles and 12 homers. Great on-base skills, but very low average. However, in 2021, things actually got worse. He hit .248/.362/.373 (.736) with 19 doubles and just nine home runs. In twice as many games, he hit three fewer homers than the previous year. Where did the power go? 2022 was Yelich's age-30 season. He was able to play in 154 games and was a Gold Glove finalist. However, he hit .252/.355/.383 (.738) with 25 doubles and 14 homers. Three consecutive seasons with reduced power has become a theme, a trend... the new normal? Replacing Yelich Losing both corner outfield starters would seem difficult to replace, and that's fair. Tyrone Taylor will likely return. Garrett Mitchell came up in late August and had a solid month. He was named Best Rookie by Brewer Fanatic (video). In 28 games, he hit .311/.373/.459 (.832) with three doubles, two homers, nine RBI, and eight stolen bases (without being caught). Fellow Top 5 Brewers prospects, outfielders Sal Frelick and Joey Wiemer both finished their seasons with two months at Triple-A Nashville. Frelick was the team's top draft pick in 2021 (15th overall) from Boston College. He began the season at High-A Wisconsin where he posted an .847 OPS. He moved up to Double-A Biloxi and in 52 games, he hit .317/.380/.464 (.844) with 12 doubles, three triples, and five home runs. Then he finished his season with 46 games in Nashville where he hit .365/.435/.508 (.943) with 11 doubles, two triples and four homers. Combined, he had 24 steals in 32 attempts. He was named Brewer Fanatic's Minor League Hitter of the Year. Wiemer was the Brewers fourth-round pick in 2020 from Cincinnati. He began the 2022 season at Biloxi. After a huge start, he struggled, but in 84 games, he hit .243/.321/.440 (.761) with 19 doubles, 15 homers and 47 RBI. He also had 25 stolen bases in 26 attempts. He finished the season with Nashville and in 43 games, he hit .287/.368/.520 (.888) with 15 doubles, six homers and 30 RBI. He was 6-for-8 in steal attempts. (Brewers Spotlight with Joey Wiemer: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) Wiemer will turn 24 before the 2023 season, and Frelick will turn 23 shortly after the season begins. Both are good outfielders with strong arms. Speaking of good outfielders, Jackson Chourio was named a Rawlings minor-league Gold Glove winner for his work in center field in 2022. Chourio, who won't turn 19 until after the 2023 season begins, started his season in Extended Spring Training. Less than a month into the season, he was promoted to Low-A Carolina. In 62 games, he hit .324/.373/.600 (.973) with 23 doubles, five triples, and 12 home runs. He moved up to High-A Wisconsin and played in 31 games. He hit .252/.317/.488 (.805) with six doubles and eight homers. He even ended the season by getting a week (six games) with Double-A Biloxi. He had just two hits in 23 at-bats (.087), but one was a double. He was 16-for-20 in stolen base attempts. Chourio certainly isn't ready to join the Brewers quite yet, but at this stage, it's hard to put too many limitations on what the top prospect can do by the end of the 2023 season. Frelick and Wiemer are at least close to being ready to join Mitchell in the Brewers outfield. Will they be able to match the production of Yelich and Renfroe? Probably not, but it may be close. The defense in the outfield would certainly be strong. As important, at least in this conversation and discussion, those three outfield spots would all cost the league minimum or slightly more than it for 2023, 2024, and 2025 seasons before arbitration would hit. That is significant to a team trying to lock up their two aces and potentially their franchise shortstop. A quick glance at the Brewer Fanatic End-of-Season Prospect Rankings show: Jackson Chourio Sal Frelick Joey Wiemer Garrett Mitchell The Return for Yelich This is where things kind of get difficult. Would any team be interested in a 30-year-old former MVP who hasn't hit for average or power the past three seasons, but at least does have a great eye at the plate and solid defense, but is owed another $156 over the next six years? I can't imagine that any team would be interested in acquiring Yelich's contract in a straight trade. If they did, the return might be less than the team received for Hunter Renfroe last week. If the Brewers are willing to eat a large chunk of the remaining contract, maybe up to $40-50 million, they might receive a decent prospect in return. It's also possible any team acquiring Yelich would insist that the Brewers take on a contract or two that they don't want. That's the give-and-take, the negotiations that would make such a deal really difficult to predict or even imagine. What's Going to Happen? Alright, I intentionally wrote the above without having a definitive answer for how this situation could or even should play out. Here is where the discussions and conversations really begin. The reality is that Christian Yelich is not a bad player. He is a solid contributor to a big-league team. He plays good defense. He is solid near the top of the order because he does have good on-base skills. He is capable of hitting doubles and the occasional homer. He runs the bases well. He plays solid defense in left field. The 'problem' is that after arguably being grossly underpaid during the first seven seasons of his big-league career, he has been a big overpaid the past three seasons. FanGraphs says that he was worth 2.3 fWAR in 2022, or about $18.1 million. In 2021, he was at 1.6 fWAR, or $12 million. If I'm a team that is interested in a good player but maybe would prefer to only pay him about $16 million per year, the Brewers might have to throw in about $60 million in a potential trade. I think Matt Arnold and his staff should, and certainly will, have some initial conversations with teams about Yelich just to gauge interest and maybe even get some sense of what a trade might look like. It is hard to imagine that something can get done this offseason. If it can be, then Arnold deserves another promotion and raise. And I don't think that it is necessarily a bad thing to have Christian Yelich and his contract return in 2023. First, he will still be just 31 and he can do a lot of good things on the field. In addition, the three outfield prospects (plus the very young Mitchell) are not necessarily ready to jump into the team's lineup on opening day. Having the stability of the generally-healthy Yelich at the top of the order and in left field can be a positive and allow the youngsters a little more time to develop. In addition, even if Woodruff, Burnes, and Adames all stick around and get pay bumps via arbitration or contract extension, their 2023 numbers won't be as big as they will certainly be in 2024 and beyond. And so they can absorb Yelich's contract and still maintain a reasonable budget and have a competitive team in 2023. In addition, just because we may want the Brewers to reach long-term agreements to keep The Big Three around for a long time does not mean that they will be able to do that. The players may want to experience free agency, or their contract demands might be too much. Those decisions may also determine whether or not the Brewers decide to trade Kolten Wong, or even Eric Lauer? So I would conclude by saying that the Brewers should have a dialogue with other organizations regarding Yelich, but they shouldn't feel like it is mandatory to do this offseason. If they can, and it helps them lock up their aces, great. If not, they still have the talent to make another run in 2023. Your Turn Feel free to share your thoughts in the Comments below.
  3. The Brewers have a lot of very intriguing questions to answer this offseason, and we will try to provide some thoughts on many of the possibilities. Last weekend, we considered the options with Brandon Woodruff. This weekend, we are considering options for the organization to consider as it relates to Corbin Burnes. Image courtesy of Milwaukee Journal Sentinel-USA TODAY NETWORK I think we can all agree that it will be a very interesting off-season for the Milwaukee Brewers. And there are some really difficult decisions for Matt Arnold and Company to consider. Between free agency and potential trades, the front office should be busy. How much will they be able to spend, or will they need to make decisions to reduce salaries? If that’s the case, fans will need to know that there will be some really good, really popular players that could be dealt. Today, we consider what a contract extension with Corbin Burnes might look like. (SPOILER ALERT! Quick summary, in case you need to come back later to see the actual numbers… It’s going to be a bunch of years and a really big dollar value.) Last weekend, we considered what a trade of co-ace Brandon Woodruff might look like as well as what Woodruff might be able to get in a long-term contract extension. Yesterday, Tim considered what the Brewers could get in return for Cy Young Corbin Burnes. So today, the pressure is on me to do a little research and provide Brewers fans with a realistic look at what a long-term contract extension with Burnes might look like Let’s start with the basics. Burnes was drafted in the fourth round of the 2016 draft out of St. Mary’s University. He made his MLB debut in July of 2018 and tossed 30 games out of the Brewers bullpen. In 2019, he went 1-5 with an ERA at 8.82, again, most out of the bullpen. That is the point in which I dropped him from the minor-league roster of my long-time keeper league. He had 243 strikeouts to go with 51 walks. So of course, in 2020, he went 4-1 with a 2.11 ERA. In 2021, he went 11-5 with a 2.43 ERA. In 167 innings, he walked 34 and struck out 234 batters on his way to his first Cy Young award. So far, it’s “just” one Cy Young Award, but if healthy, he appears to be a guy who will be a perennial All Star and Cy Young candidate. In 2022, he made a career-high 33 starts (to lead the league) and 202 innings. He was 12-8 with a 2.94 ERA. He has 4.049 years of service time which means he has two years of arbitration left potentially. So in reality, the Brewers (and Burnes) should not feel forced to make a deal, but it is also the ideal time for the Brewers to do this because the closer Burnes gets to free agency, the more likely he will want to hold out for that time when multiple teams will be able to court him. A quick look at his velocities. In 2022, his fastball averaged 96.0 to 96.9 mph. In the past couple of years, the pitch has been coded more often as a cutter and the velocity has been 95.3 and 95.1 mph. His slider has been over 88 mph. His curveball has been between 81 and 82 mph. He even throws a change-up, and it has been right over 90 mph. In other words, the stuff has not changed. According to Fan Graphs, Burnes has been worth 14.5 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) over the past three seasons, and that includes the Covid-shortened 2020 season (he was a 2.4 WAR pitcher in the 60-game season, which equates to about 6.5 WAR over a full season). In those three seasons, his ‘Value’ has been worth $115.6 million. Again, if you give him a full season for 2020, you can add about $33 million more to that number. So yes, per 162 games, he has been worth just over $50 million per year. Corbin Burnes has been on the Injured List just once. In 2020, he missed time with an oblique injury. In 2021, his Cy Young season, he left one game with a jammed knee but didn’t miss a start. Knock on proverbial wood, but to this point, he has remained healthy. Comparable Contracts Simply, there are not a lot of long-term contracts signed with dominant, Cy Young Award winners with two years of arbitration remaining. So, it is possible that the only decent comparables might be free agents, but that’s not the same. Free agents can talk to multiple teams in their negotiations. That said, those top contracts such as Gerrit Cole’s deal with the Yankees (9 years, $324 million) or Stephen Strasburg’s deal with the Nationals (7 years, $245 million). The Average Annual Value (AAV) of Cole’s deal was $36 million while Strasburg’s was $35 million. Of course, Trevor Bauer also signed before the 2020 season at an AAV of $34 million. Going back five years earlier, Max Scherzer signed a seven-year, $210 million deal with Washington ($30 million per year). The one contract that is probably most similar to this Burnes’ situation might be that of Jacob deGrom. Before the 2019 season, deGrom and the Mets agreed to a five-year, $137.5 million deal. At the time, deGrom was coming off of his first Cy Young season in 2018 and then won his second in 2019. So, he had two more years of arbitration remaining if he wanted to go in that direction. Instead, he signed a deal and received: 2019: $7M, 2020: $23M, 2021: $33.5M, 2022: $33.5M, 2023: $30.5M, 2024: $32.5M (club option). (AAV = $27.5M) As you know, the deal allowed deGrom to opt out after the 2022 season (so we should hear more about that soon). It’s also important to note that nearly half of the contract is deferred. Could that be included in a deal with Burnes? deGrom also received a full no-trade clause. There is one significant difference between deGrom’s extension and a long-term extension with Burnes, if he signs this offseason. Age. 2019 was the first season of deGrom’s deal, and it was his Age-31 season. Burnes will be 28 years old throughout the first season of such a deal. While that doesn’t need to mean more AAV, it could mean extending the contract out. So, let’s get to a proposal I would send to Burnes and his agents and advisors. OK, I’d probably start just a little bit lower in hopes of reaching a deal around this number. Will this be a deal that Brewers management, and ownership, would be comfortable agreeing upon? Age Year Salary 28 2023 $18.00 29 2024 $25.00 30 2025 $28.00 31 2026 $30.00 32 2027 $32.00 opt out 33 2028 $33.00 34 2029 $34.00 35 2030 $35.00 buyout $10M This contract is similar to deGrom’s deal with the Mets. The difference is that it extends longer, and I don’t want to have to consider deferments and such. I do like the idea of options, at least one, at the end of any contract. I really do not like the idea of opt-outs. However, in this case, I am going to add one. I feel like these huge contracts are far riskier for the organization than it is for the player. In this case, I would let Burnes make that decision after five years and $133 million. If he did opt out, he would be giving up the final two years and $77 million. However, if he would opt out, it would be because he could sign a deal for much more than that. If that happens, the Brewers would save that money by not paying a 33-34 year old $77 million when the risk is obviously much higher. The Brewers risk, of course, is that Burnes doesn’t opt out, it would likely mean that either he wasn’t pitching well or was injured. With Opt Out 5 years, $133M Guaranteed 7 years, $210M Up To 8 years, $235M Ultimately, it is the same contract that Max Scherzer signed as a free agent seven years ago. Again, Scherzer was a free agent. He won his first Cy Young Award two years earlier, in his age-28 season with the Tigers. In 2018, he finished fifth in Cy Young voting. He had pitched in his second straight All-Star game. The economics of baseball has grown significantly over the past seven years. I think that two years of arbitration and five years of free agency today could be worth the same as a seven-year contract would have seven years ago. So what do you think? Is this a contract that you would feel comfortable with the Brewers offering Corbin Burnes at this time? If his representation is willing to negotiate from there, awesome. Keep the talks going. If they aren’t willing to even listen to that offer, then Milwaukee should reach out to other teams to see what his trade value is (It will be very, very big). If they’re not happy with the offers, then you offer him arbitration, have him pitch in 2023 for something close to $20 million, and try again next offseason with the same three options. Your turn. What would you do? View full article
  4. I think we can all agree that it will be a very interesting off-season for the Milwaukee Brewers. And there are some really difficult decisions for Matt Arnold and Company to consider. Between free agency and potential trades, the front office should be busy. How much will they be able to spend, or will they need to make decisions to reduce salaries? If that’s the case, fans will need to know that there will be some really good, really popular players that could be dealt. Today, we consider what a contract extension with Corbin Burnes might look like. (SPOILER ALERT! Quick summary, in case you need to come back later to see the actual numbers… It’s going to be a bunch of years and a really big dollar value.) Last weekend, we considered what a trade of co-ace Brandon Woodruff might look like as well as what Woodruff might be able to get in a long-term contract extension. Yesterday, Tim considered what the Brewers could get in return for Cy Young Corbin Burnes. So today, the pressure is on me to do a little research and provide Brewers fans with a realistic look at what a long-term contract extension with Burnes might look like Let’s start with the basics. Burnes was drafted in the fourth round of the 2016 draft out of St. Mary’s University. He made his MLB debut in July of 2018 and tossed 30 games out of the Brewers bullpen. In 2019, he went 1-5 with an ERA at 8.82, again, most out of the bullpen. That is the point in which I dropped him from the minor-league roster of my long-time keeper league. He had 243 strikeouts to go with 51 walks. So of course, in 2020, he went 4-1 with a 2.11 ERA. In 2021, he went 11-5 with a 2.43 ERA. In 167 innings, he walked 34 and struck out 234 batters on his way to his first Cy Young award. So far, it’s “just” one Cy Young Award, but if healthy, he appears to be a guy who will be a perennial All Star and Cy Young candidate. In 2022, he made a career-high 33 starts (to lead the league) and 202 innings. He was 12-8 with a 2.94 ERA. He has 4.049 years of service time which means he has two years of arbitration left potentially. So in reality, the Brewers (and Burnes) should not feel forced to make a deal, but it is also the ideal time for the Brewers to do this because the closer Burnes gets to free agency, the more likely he will want to hold out for that time when multiple teams will be able to court him. A quick look at his velocities. In 2022, his fastball averaged 96.0 to 96.9 mph. In the past couple of years, the pitch has been coded more often as a cutter and the velocity has been 95.3 and 95.1 mph. His slider has been over 88 mph. His curveball has been between 81 and 82 mph. He even throws a change-up, and it has been right over 90 mph. In other words, the stuff has not changed. According to Fan Graphs, Burnes has been worth 14.5 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) over the past three seasons, and that includes the Covid-shortened 2020 season (he was a 2.4 WAR pitcher in the 60-game season, which equates to about 6.5 WAR over a full season). In those three seasons, his ‘Value’ has been worth $115.6 million. Again, if you give him a full season for 2020, you can add about $33 million more to that number. So yes, per 162 games, he has been worth just over $50 million per year. Corbin Burnes has been on the Injured List just once. In 2020, he missed time with an oblique injury. In 2021, his Cy Young season, he left one game with a jammed knee but didn’t miss a start. Knock on proverbial wood, but to this point, he has remained healthy. Comparable Contracts Simply, there are not a lot of long-term contracts signed with dominant, Cy Young Award winners with two years of arbitration remaining. So, it is possible that the only decent comparables might be free agents, but that’s not the same. Free agents can talk to multiple teams in their negotiations. That said, those top contracts such as Gerrit Cole’s deal with the Yankees (9 years, $324 million) or Stephen Strasburg’s deal with the Nationals (7 years, $245 million). The Average Annual Value (AAV) of Cole’s deal was $36 million while Strasburg’s was $35 million. Of course, Trevor Bauer also signed before the 2020 season at an AAV of $34 million. Going back five years earlier, Max Scherzer signed a seven-year, $210 million deal with Washington ($30 million per year). The one contract that is probably most similar to this Burnes’ situation might be that of Jacob deGrom. Before the 2019 season, deGrom and the Mets agreed to a five-year, $137.5 million deal. At the time, deGrom was coming off of his first Cy Young season in 2018 and then won his second in 2019. So, he had two more years of arbitration remaining if he wanted to go in that direction. Instead, he signed a deal and received: 2019: $7M, 2020: $23M, 2021: $33.5M, 2022: $33.5M, 2023: $30.5M, 2024: $32.5M (club option). (AAV = $27.5M) As you know, the deal allowed deGrom to opt out after the 2022 season (so we should hear more about that soon). It’s also important to note that nearly half of the contract is deferred. Could that be included in a deal with Burnes? deGrom also received a full no-trade clause. There is one significant difference between deGrom’s extension and a long-term extension with Burnes, if he signs this offseason. Age. 2019 was the first season of deGrom’s deal, and it was his Age-31 season. Burnes will be 28 years old throughout the first season of such a deal. While that doesn’t need to mean more AAV, it could mean extending the contract out. So, let’s get to a proposal I would send to Burnes and his agents and advisors. OK, I’d probably start just a little bit lower in hopes of reaching a deal around this number. Will this be a deal that Brewers management, and ownership, would be comfortable agreeing upon? Age Year Salary 28 2023 $18.00 29 2024 $25.00 30 2025 $28.00 31 2026 $30.00 32 2027 $32.00 opt out 33 2028 $33.00 34 2029 $34.00 35 2030 $35.00 buyout $10M This contract is similar to deGrom’s deal with the Mets. The difference is that it extends longer, and I don’t want to have to consider deferments and such. I do like the idea of options, at least one, at the end of any contract. I really do not like the idea of opt-outs. However, in this case, I am going to add one. I feel like these huge contracts are far riskier for the organization than it is for the player. In this case, I would let Burnes make that decision after five years and $133 million. If he did opt out, he would be giving up the final two years and $77 million. However, if he would opt out, it would be because he could sign a deal for much more than that. If that happens, the Brewers would save that money by not paying a 33-34 year old $77 million when the risk is obviously much higher. The Brewers risk, of course, is that Burnes doesn’t opt out, it would likely mean that either he wasn’t pitching well or was injured. With Opt Out 5 years, $133M Guaranteed 7 years, $210M Up To 8 years, $235M Ultimately, it is the same contract that Max Scherzer signed as a free agent seven years ago. Again, Scherzer was a free agent. He won his first Cy Young Award two years earlier, in his age-28 season with the Tigers. In 2018, he finished fifth in Cy Young voting. He had pitched in his second straight All-Star game. The economics of baseball has grown significantly over the past seven years. I think that two years of arbitration and five years of free agency today could be worth the same as a seven-year contract would have seven years ago. So what do you think? Is this a contract that you would feel comfortable with the Brewers offering Corbin Burnes at this time? If his representation is willing to negotiate from there, awesome. Keep the talks going. If they aren’t willing to even listen to that offer, then Milwaukee should reach out to other teams to see what his trade value is (It will be very, very big). If they’re not happy with the offers, then you offer him arbitration, have him pitch in 2023 for something close to $20 million, and try again next offseason with the same three options. Your turn. What would you do?
  5. As David Stearns steps down as Milwaukee Brewers' President of Baseball Operations, it's time to look at his tenure since he took over as GM prior to the 2016 season. Image courtesy of Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports Everything is relative, including how one measures team success in baseball. Depending on your goals and how you determine "winning" as a franchise, you can argue various levels of success or failure with David Stearns in charge of player personnel. Some feel he never truly tried to push the team "over the top" to win a title. Instead, the focus was on getting as many "bites of the apple," which they choked on this season. Now Stearns moves on and GM Matt Arnold takes over the department (full press conference at the bottom of the article). He will likely follow a similar style as Stearns, but perhaps with his own wrinkles. He has a lot of decisions to make, with 18 guys in arbitration and a few major players nearing the end of club control. Of course, Arnold shouldn't be judged on this upcoming season alone, and if he were to bring Milwaukee a World Series, fans would love him - even if some poor years follow. So as the David Stearns era ends in Milwaukee, how would you evaluate his performance? It's always been a lively debate, mostly centered on the positives of regular season wins and playoff appearances, but lacking the ultimate prize. You can watch the full press conference below. View full article
  6. Everything is relative, including how one measures team success in baseball. Depending on your goals and how you determine "winning" as a franchise, you can argue various levels of success or failure with David Stearns in charge of player personnel. Some feel he never truly tried to push the team "over the top" to win a title. Instead, the focus was on getting as many "bites of the apple," which they choked on this season. Now Stearns moves on and GM Matt Arnold takes over the department (full press conference at the bottom of the article). He will likely follow a similar style as Stearns, but perhaps with his own wrinkles. He has a lot of decisions to make, with 18 guys in arbitration and a few major players nearing the end of club control. Of course, Arnold shouldn't be judged on this upcoming season alone, and if he were to bring Milwaukee a World Series, fans would love him - even if some poor years follow. So as the David Stearns era ends in Milwaukee, how would you evaluate his performance? It's always been a lively debate, mostly centered on the positives of regular season wins and playoff appearances, but lacking the ultimate prize. You can watch the full press conference below.
  7. David Stearns joined the Brewers in October of 2015 when he was named the general manager. At the time, he was touted as highly intelligent, very into the baseball analytics, and very young. Before the 2019 season, Stearns was named the president of baseball operations. Soon after, he hired Matt Arnold to take over the role of general manager. Together, they have helped lead the Brewers to four postseason trips in the past five seasons, and this year, they missed the playoffs by one game. Over the past six seasons, the Brewers have the third most wins in the National League behind only the Dodgers and Braves. Adam McCalvy was the first to break the news online. A 10:00 press conference this morning will air on MLB Network. The decision to step down was not an easy one for Stearns who said that it is he has "been wrestling with for a long time." He continued, "Mark Attanasio and I have had an open dialogue and we both knew this day could eventually come. It has been a priority for both of us that any transition would take place while the organization is in a healthy position with solid leadership and a talented roster going forward. That is certainly the case today." The team is certainly talented and filled with players who have helped the team win a lot of games. But the leadership will now come from Matt Arnold. Arnold has been in the game for a long time. His first job in baseball came with the Dodgers in 2000. He spent 2002 with the Rangers before four years with the Reds. He then joined the Tampa Bay Rays in 2007 and remained there until 2015 when he joined the Brewers at the same time as Stearns. Arnold said, "I want to thank Mark (Attanasio) and David (Stearns) for their support throughout my seven years here. I am excited to be taking the reins in leading our baseball operation efforts." Attanasio noted in the team's press release, "While we will miss David, I am excited for the opportunity this provides Matt. Matt is one of the brightest executives in the game. He brings a diverse set of experiences and has been integral to everything we have done as an organization during his time here." So Brewers fans, is this a good move for the organization? It will be a very interesting offseason for the team as a lot of very difficult decisions will need to be made.
  8. News broke on Thursday morning that Brewers president of baseball operations, David Stearns, is stepping down from that role and will become an advisor to ownership and the baseball operations group. Matt Arnold, who has been GM since 2020, will now be overseeing the baseball operations department. Image courtesy of Mike De Sisti / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK David Stearns joined the Brewers in October of 2015 when he was named the general manager. At the time, he was touted as highly intelligent, very into the baseball analytics, and very young. Before the 2019 season, Stearns was named the president of baseball operations. Soon after, he hired Matt Arnold to take over the role of general manager. Together, they have helped lead the Brewers to four postseason trips in the past five seasons, and this year, they missed the playoffs by one game. Over the past six seasons, the Brewers have the third most wins in the National League behind only the Dodgers and Braves. Adam McCalvy was the first to break the news online. A 10:00 press conference this morning will air on MLB Network. The decision to step down was not an easy one for Stearns who said that it is he has "been wrestling with for a long time." He continued, "Mark Attanasio and I have had an open dialogue and we both knew this day could eventually come. It has been a priority for both of us that any transition would take place while the organization is in a healthy position with solid leadership and a talented roster going forward. That is certainly the case today." The team is certainly talented and filled with players who have helped the team win a lot of games. But the leadership will now come from Matt Arnold. Arnold has been in the game for a long time. His first job in baseball came with the Dodgers in 2000. He spent 2002 with the Rangers before four years with the Reds. He then joined the Tampa Bay Rays in 2007 and remained there until 2015 when he joined the Brewers at the same time as Stearns. Arnold said, "I want to thank Mark (Attanasio) and David (Stearns) for their support throughout my seven years here. I am excited to be taking the reins in leading our baseball operation efforts." Attanasio noted in the team's press release, "While we will miss David, I am excited for the opportunity this provides Matt. Matt is one of the brightest executives in the game. He brings a diverse set of experiences and has been integral to everything we have done as an organization during his time here." So Brewers fans, is this a good move for the organization? It will be a very interesting offseason for the team as a lot of very difficult decisions will need to be made. View full article
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