Per multiple sources, 2018 MVP Christian Yelich and the Milwaukee Brewers are closing in on a huge contract extension that could keep Yelich in Milwaukee for up to ten more years. With the contract being so huge, did that play a factor into who the Brewers signed from the free agent market in the off-season?
Christian Yelich is staying in Milwaukee for a long time, and getting a long overdue payday. Once the deal is finalized, the Milwaukee Brewers will have control of Yelich until 2028, adding seven years and around $190 million to his guaranteed two years left on his current contract. This is the biggest contract for the Brewers since Ryan Braun‘s five-year, $105 million extension back in 2011, and Brewers fans are more than excited to keep Yelich around for a little longer.
With Yelich’s extension needing such a big chunk of money, the question then is what did that mean for the offseason and the acquisitions the Brewers made over the past few months? Was Yelich’s contract extension placed on higher priority than the spending on free agents and signing new contracts?
This Past Offseason
This offseason wasn’t really a typical offseason for the Brewers after they made their second postseason appearance and are looking to make a third in the upcoming 2020 season. Losing Mike Moustakas and Yasmani Grandal to free agency was expected, but fans were hoping that GM David Stearns would work something out to keep them around for another year.
Along with that, the Brewers traded Chase Anderson to the Toronto Blue Jays so they didn’t have to pick up his $8.5 million team option and also declined Eric Thames‘ $7.5M mutual option. It seemed to be a money-saving factor in the ends of the front office, but was the money-saving aspect a hint at the Yelich contract extension?
To put things into context, for the 2020 season, the Brewers have around $60 million dollars on their payroll, compared to Opening Day last year where they were sitting around $130 million. They clearly had a lot of room to spend on players, where they could’ve acquired big names like Gerrit Cole (Yankees), Josh Donaldson (Twins), and Anthony Rendon (Angels), but Stearns and owner Mark Attanasio had other plans for spending their money.
With all the roster turnover, the Brewers had a lot of money to spend in the free agent market, but now that the Yelich contract extension terms have been hammered out, it’s starting to make sense as to why the Brewers spent so little in the off-season and explains how David Stearns was able to get away with signing a handful of one-year contracts.
So to answer the question on if the Yelich contract extension was a reason as to why the Brewers didn’t go for the big free agent names? That we can’t be 100% sure about. There’s a chance that the fact that he was trying to sign Yelich was in the back of his mind during free agency and impacted who he signed and who let free, but the exact impact is impossible to tell. Owner Mark Attanasio has stated before that they don’t focus their team around the budget or drive the season on the budget, we just have to trust the process.
I don’t think there’s a single legitimate complaint about the Yelich extension. I think we were waiting for this as Brewers fans. People didn’t really expect it to come until after Braun’s contract was up, but, sooner is better than later. Milwaukee is very excited to have Christian Yelich in the city for at least another decade.