Los Angeles Angels superstar Mike Trout put pen to paper on a new mega-deal on Tuesday. What does this mean for the Milwaukee Brewers and Christian Yelich?
The Milwaukee Brewers have Christian Yelich under contract through the 2022 season. He’s not going anywhere until then. But what about after? Mike Trout just signed a 12-year deal worth $430 million. He will earn an average of $36 million per year until he turns 38. Could Trout’s mega-deal impact a Yelich’s future contact? Absolutely.
What does Yelich’s current deal look like?
Yelich will earn $9.5 million this year, $12.5 million in 2020, and $14 million in 2021. He has a club option for 2022 worth $15 million that is a virtual guarantee to get picked up. In fact, the Milwaukee Brewers should pick it up tomorrow, just to be safe.
If the Brewers allow his current deal to expire after the 2022 season, Yelich will reach free agency before his age-31 season.
What would an extension for Yelich look like?
Well, there are a lot of factors at play here, and the Milwaukee Brewers have a few options before game-162 of the 2022 season.
First, the Brewers could agree to decline the $15 million club option in 2022 in exchange for a long-term contract extension. Yelich would get a new deal a year early, and the Brewers would keep their superstar under contract into his 30’s. An eight-year extension in the neighborhood of Trout’s average annual value would have to be offered.
The Brewers could also wait until after they have to decide on Yelich’s 2022 option. This would give Yelich an extra year to rack up another MVP award and/or a World Series Trophy in Milwaukee. It could also cause friction between a franchise cornerstone who is obviously worth more than $15 million per year and the club. Waiting out Yelich’s current deal is the safest option for the club in terms of guarding against future injury, but it’s also risky to allow a chance for Yelich to leave.
The longer the Brewers wait to sign Yelich to an extension, the more money it’s likely to cost them. If another player signs a bigger mega-deal, the cost for retaining Yelich could require a commitment of $35 million per year or more. Offering a deal in the neighborhood of Trout’s sooner could actually save the team money in the long run.
Could Braun’s deal impact the Brewers’ thinking?
Ryan Braun was in the middle of an eight-year deal when he signed a five-year extension in 2011. He’ll be under contract with the Milwaukee Brewers until at least the end of the 2020 season. He has a mutual option for 2021 that comes with a buyout worth $4 million. If he gets bought out, he’ll have made over $140 million with the Brewers, and still has $18 million in deferred payments as a golden parachute.
The past few years of Braun’s deal have been ugly at times, but it’s still not necessarily a bad deal. Braun has amassed a 41.7 WAR for his Brewers career, and was a 3.0+ WAR player as recently as 2016. Also, his run from 2008 to 2012 was among the best in club history. Braun has earned his money, even if his current deal doesn’t look great.
The majority of Braun’s issues have been related to injuries that occurred after signing the contract extension. The Brewers had no idea that Braun would become as brittle as he’s been. Yelich needed some time off with an oblique injury last year, but he played back-to-back seasons of 150+ games in the previous two years, he’s only 27 years old, and his lean build should age better than Braun’s body type. Braun’s deal shouldn’t impact Yelich’s, but Trout’s, and future mega-contracts, absolutely will.