Brewers sign Braun thorugh 2020 – too much?

The Brewers yesterday added five years to Ryan Braun’s contract, putting him under club control til 2020. He had already signed a contract in May 2008 that had him in Milwaukee til 2015. The new contract keeps him in Milwaukee until he’s 36.

The deal in 2008 was and is the biggest contract for a player with less than one year of Major League service.

The new deal is worth $105 million for five years, with a mutual option for a sixth year. It is the biggest deal in Brewers’ history.

Including 2011, that means Braun will be making $145.5 million for 10 years.

The deal including $10 million in signing bonuses and though the details were not dicussed, also allows the club to defer some of the money, leaving them some wiggle room for signing free agents as they may need.

The deal is reportedly for $19 million in ’16, ’17 and ’18, $18 million in 2019 and $16 million in 2020. The mutual option for 2021 is reportedly worth up to $20 million. There is a $4 million dollar buyout and the deal includes a no-trade clause.

Over the course of the whole ten year contract Braun is earning an average of $21 million per year, which is the second-highest ever salary for an outfielder, says ESPN’s Buster Olney. Olney also reports that this deal makes Braun one of just seven ever players to be signed through age 36 while spending their entire career with their original team. The others are Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, Ryan Howard, Chipper Jones and Todd Helton.

Troy Tulowitsky, who was the runner up to Braun in the 2007 Rookie of the Year voting, is the only other major leaguer signed through the 2020 season.

But what do we think about signing a player for the majority of their major league career?

Though the contract does include deferred payments meant to help the club, it does tie up a lot of money for a small-market club for the next ten years. It could handcuff the Brewers in future negotiations.

The Brewers are taking the risk that Braun not only maintains the kind of offensive output he’s known for, but doesn’t get injured – for the next ten years.

The timing is interesting, because while Braun is having his hottest start to the season, 2010 was by far his worst year statistically in the majors. It’s calculated risk, but risk nontheless. They have secured one piece of the puzzle and cemented him as the cornerstone of the franchise. They now know exactly where they stand financially as the continue to try to field a team around him.

Does the benefit a small-market team gains in marketing a “face of the franchise,” outweigh the possible downfalls of such a long contract?

Milwaukee (and Wisconsin) like their icons. People love Robin Yount and the fact that he spent his whole career in a Brewer uniform. Brett Favre was a god. There hasn’t been an annointed Brewer for a very long time. After years of losing, the franchise has a new owner and appears to be committed to placing a winning product on the field every season.

But are those off-field reasons enough to justify locking a player up for 10 years?

The same questions were raised when the Rockies extended Tulowitzki – who was under contract thorough 2014 at the time they added six years to his deal.

3 thoughts on “Brewers sign Braun thorugh 2020 – too much?

  1. The timing *is* very interesting. A lot can happen to a player’s career in 5 seasons. Maybe the Brewers were worried that if Pujols signs for $30 million a year with the Cardinals that will set a precedent for “face of the franchise” contracts?

  2. Hmm, yes. Long-term contracts always worry me. I love seeing a player willing to commit to a long-term relationship with a club (like the three Yanks you mention), but anything beyond five years makes me nervous. The NY Islanders may have a lot to do with this. But I praise Milwaukee for making a bold commitment.

  3. When school teachers are making concessions, and people generally are being expected to find ways to economize, this is more gay 90’s type stuff. Hasn’t baseball heard – the economy is depressed.

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