In 2020, there might be flying cars, a cure for the common cold and Ryan Braun will still be playing for the Milwaukee Brewers.
Braun agreed to a five-year contract extension through 2020 (he signed a seven-year extension in 2008) that locks in an average annual value of over $20 million from 2016-2020. The five-year extension is worth $105 million and if you include this season, the Brewers are committed to paying Braun roughly $145 million over the next decade.
The bottom line here, as crazy as it may seem, is that Milwaukee probably saved themselves a ton of money. Braun is one of, if not the best outfielders in the game. He’s a perennial lock for 100-30-100-15-.300 every season and he’s now entering the prime of his career at 27 years old. If he played out another few years of the seven-year contract extension he agreed to back in 2008, he could’ve commanded even more money and gotten it from a team like Boston or New York. Sure, it’s easy for him to say now that he wants to spend his full career in Milwaukee but add another few seasons of mediocre play and nearly double the contract then ask him how he feels.
Plus, let’s not forget to adjust for inflation. Who knows, a ballpark hot dog might be $20 in a 2015 economy. But I digress…
The Colorado Rockies did the same thing with shortstop Troy Tulowitzki as he and Braun are now the only players currently signed through 2020. By locking up Braun, the Brewers have a great position player at their nucleus for years to come.
Surprisingly, there are plenty of critics. ESPN’s Dan Szymborski argues against the trade (ESPN Insider article), but guess what, he cites a bunch of sabermetric, non-sensical, mumbo-jumbo to justify his thought process. And while I’m no Joe Morgan when it comes to sabermetrics, Braun’s a beast, plain and simple. Signing him at what amounts to $14.5 million per year over the next 10 years is a steal and then some. Albert Pujols wants near $30 million a year and Adrian Gonzalez just got $22 million a year from the Red Sox, Szymborski cites this fact as well, so Braun could feasibly demand somewhere in between that after his current extension ended. The Brewers could never dream to pay $25+ million for Braun when he’s in his mid-30s.
Danny Knobler at CBSSports.com makes the wiser of two arguments: Mid-market teams have to make these deals in order to lock up their players. Signing their best players to long-term deals prevents situations that the Cardinals now face with Pujols. They not only retain the player, they get him at half the cost.
The Brewers got their man and while this almost guarantees that Prince Fielder is unlikely to get a big contract extension from Milwaukee by the end of the season, Milwaukee is retaining the better of their two best players until 2020. For now, the Brew Crew could opt to trade Fielder for a young arm around the All-Star Break and call-up young prospect Hunter Morris a year early to see what he can do.
We’ll see what happens, hindsight is 20/20 after all.