Brewers: Ranking The 6 Best Contracts in Franchise History
By John Egan
Best Contract in Brewers History #3: Freddy Peralta
It’s the best contract on the Brewers roster as of this moment, but we can’t consider it the best ever yet. We have lots of years left to decide and argue over Christian Yelich’s current contract. We also don’t know what is in store for Brandon Woodruff or Corbin Burnes. Hopefully extensions for both.
But right now, the steal of the century is Freddy Peralta.
A few weeks before the 2020 lockdown and eventual delayed season, Peralta signed a five-year, $15.5MM contract extension. As we sit here now and look at it, the Brewers are geniuses and Peralta almost seems grossly underpaid.
But at the time, Peralta was a promising young pitcher who had some success as a starting pitcher and a reliever. Would he be a solid innings eater in relief? Would he be the new closer someday and take the same path as Josh Hader? Could he still be a starter? His future role was yet to be determined, so signing him to an extension seemed like a big risk given his uncertainty.
But then Peralta broke out in 2021 and proved the Brewers right by betting on him.
After earning the fifth starting spot and the second year of his deal, Peralta posted a 10-5 record and 2.81 ERA. He recorded 195 strikeouts over 144.1 innings pitched in the regular season, and was rewarded with an All-Star appearance and an impressive one at that. In case you forgot, Peralta pitched an entire inning and struck every batter out in that All Star Game.
His Game 3 start against the Atlanta Braves in the 2021 NLDS was a thing of beauty.
Peralta’s contract for the next few years will keep the team competitive and allow room to sign more free agents or offer extensions. At the time, $15.5MM was a lot of money for a young pitcher who was grateful at the chance to pitch and contribute to the team. Now, he is a number three starter on one of the best rotations in baseball.
If Peralta repeats his stats in 2022, this contract is only going to look better and better. Keep in mind, there are two club options for $8MM on Peralta that could keep him in Milwaukee on this contract through the 2026 season.
Best Contract in Brewers History #2: Ryan Braun
Say what you want about Ryan Braun; his scandals and end-of-career nagging injuries, etc. it doesn’t matter. At the time of Braun’s big contract signing, it was and still is a major steal for Milwaukee.
Braun originally signed a seven-year, $45MM extension in 2008. He had just won the 2007 NL Rookie of the Year. But with the window of having Prince Fielder closing on Milwaukee and talks not going anywhere, the team pulled the trigger on the California native after Braun expressed his desire to be a Brewer for life.
He signed a five-year, $105MM extension, and meant Milwaukee would be paying the outfielder over $150MM in his career. Ryan Braun may have officially retired last year, but he will technically be receiving paychecks from Milwaukee until 2031. $18MM of his contract was deferred and still owed to him. Not a bad gig for him at all. It helped the team as well. For a small market team, being able to move money around and sign other players, including another monster deal with Christian Yelich, was great for the team.
You also can’t argue with his logic at the time. During a series of interviews, Brewers fans still remember him saying “What can’t I buy with $105 million?” His willingness to stay in Milwaukee and make the team better will always go down as one of the team’s best contracts. They got an MVP and a new Golden Age in Brewers baseball. That’s well worth the money paid to Braun.
Best Contract in Brewers History #1: Robin Yount
You can’t make a “best” or “greatest” list for the Milwaukee Brewers without including Robin Yount.
Yount would sign his first extension in June of 1978 and would be for five years. His next would be a six-year deal in 1983. You could say his three overall contracts were the best in team history, but his last one came with quite a story.
Before the 1990 season, there was a good chance that Robin Yount would be playing in another uniform. He filed for free agency and was coming off one of his best seasons. Yount and his agent, his brother Larry, were concerned about the team’s best players being up on the trade block and that Robin wanted to play for a winning team.
Teams like the Los Angeles Angels, Chicago Cubs and San Diego Padres had all put great offers on the table for number 19. But Yount would eventually sign a three-year, $9.6MM contract to remain with the Brewers and be the final contract of his career.
That doesn’t seem like a lot now, but $3.2MM a season was the highest season salary anyone in baseball had made yet. His contract was a string of deals that started a salary boom in the 1990s. The Brewers, of all teams, were paving the way for higher-paid players.
The contract wouldn’t result in any World Series wins, but it did cement a legacy in Milwaukee for Yount. He would play his entire career for the Brewers. He would also collect his 3,000th hit during that contract. On September 9th, 1992, Robin became the 17th player to reach 3K hits.
Yount would retire after the 1993 season. He still holds team career records for games, at-bats, runs, hits, doubles, triples, RBIs, total bases, walks and so many more.
Yount was a first ballot Hall of Fame inductee in 1999, had his number retired and currently part of the Brewers Walk of Fame and Wall of Honor. You can’t think of the Brewers without thinking about Robin Yount, and his final contract was the best thing the team could ask for. You don’t get much better than that.