The news broke yesterday afternoon that Ryan Braun and the Milwaukee Brewers came to an agreement on a contract extension that will keep him here until 2020 (option year in 2021). This came as a shocker to everyone who in baseball and especially this hack of a blogger, me.
First let's cover the basics. This deal comes only 3 years after Braun signed a 5 year contract with Milwaukee in 2008. At that time, that was a monster contract because it beat out Evan Longoria & Troy Tulowitzki's contracts that were signed weeks before. This is even bigger than Tulo's contract extension that was made last November to the tune of 119MM for 6 years...this despite the fact that Troy was under team control until 2014.
What a lot of people don't understand is why the Brewers wanted to do this in the first place? They had him locked up until he was 32, which for most players, is the end of their prime. We all laughed when the Nationals signed Werth at the age of 32. Well, here's another version of that.
Here are a couple of different takes on the deal by bloggers and media heads at ESPN & Co.
Steve Garczynski, a blogger on JSOnline.com makes a good argument that this deal was unneeded risk for the club.
ESPN's Keith Law calls it "mostly downside for the club" because he was locked up through 2015.
Jim Langrehr (Brewers Bar) digs deeper and finds the deal to be a little more club-friendly. He points out that with the "standard rate" of inflation of 5%, the deal is equivalent to 71.3 MM in present day dollars. With the way deals are getting done in MLB, the Brewers are thinking outside of the box in getting Braun signed while he still is under team control thru 2015.
Salary Inflation: those two words are going to be the most talked-about issue in baseball this decade. It's going to be interest to see how teams react to a rising inflation rate; instead of your a-typical 2-3% it's going to be 5% so it seems.
ESPN's Chritina Kahrl points out that the $10MM "massive" signing bonus is borderline insane for a small market team like Milwaukee to make. That is money that could be used to add someone before the deadline. Here's the kicker to that argument, Milwaukee has NO trading pieces in their farm system to even make a trade for someone that will need that 10MM. Players like Jose Reyes & Rafael Furcal are going to demand a lot in return. Granted, Milwaukee could make a move to bring in a SS that is a B-Level player, but that sort of after-thought type of player won't demand that much...if that even makes sense. My point is, Milwaukee isn't in a position to even use that 10MM to make a trade.
It's looking like my (May) 2008 prediction is coming true (read the bold font).
"I see Ryan Braun making a bigger impact to the Brewers Organization, both now and down the road, then Prince Fielder"
Well, we all know that's true now. With yesterdays news this all but assured us that he on his way out. In his place is Mat Gammel or hopefully someone else that they can pull off a trade for. That's going to be tough to see a power hitter like Prince playing for the Cubbies or Cardinals (depending on what happens with Albert). But let's not forget that he's a 1B that plays slightly-above average defense.
My two cents? I like the deal because it was a risk that could pay-off big in luring other players to come to Milwaukee and play. They now have the face of the franchise locked up years to come and he will be Milwaukee's biggest fan in promoting the city/franchise to other players. Furthermore, with the way salaries are sky-rocketing, this could turn out to be quite the deal.