5 Highest Brewers payrolls of the Mark Attanasio era

What are the top payrolls Mark Attanasio has run as owner of the Brewers
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5 of 5

1. 2022

Opening Day payroll: $131,930,160
League rank: 19th

Year end payroll: $135,169,682
League rank: 19th

The top payroll the Brewers have run in the Mark Attanasio era came in 2022. Just like in 2019, the Brewers were coming off an NL Central division title and the payroll made a big jump of around $30MM from where it was in 2021.

Some veteran additions like Andrew McCutchen and Hunter Renfroe helped reinforce the team. Also, 2022 was the first year that Christian Yelich's big contract extension kicked in. His salary jumped from $14MM in 2021 to $26MM in 2022. Lorenzo Cain was also in the final year of his big, five year contract.

The highest paid players on the 2022 Brewers were Yelich ($26MM), Cain ($18MM), Josh Hader ($11MM), Andrew McCutchen ($8.5MM), and Kolten Wong ($8.5MM).

The 2022 team fell short of expectations following a late season collapse, especially in the bullpen. They were in first place by three games at the Trade Deadline when Josh Hader was traded among a series of moves that did not improve the present roster. Milwaukee swiftly fell out of first place and never recovered, finishing 86-76 and seven games back of the Cardinals in the NL Central.

Key takeaways

Here are some key takeaways from this list of Mark Attanasio's top payrolls that I noticed. First is that each of the last three seasons make the top five payrolls under Attanasio. He's drawn criticism specifically in the last three years about how much money is being spent on the team, but it's not like the payrolls are low for his tenure. The league ranks are never that high, but that also circles back to the economics of baseball and the smallest market simply can't run a top ten payroll.

Secondly, the high water mark was set in 2022 and the payrolls the last two years have dipped further and further below that mark despite the team's success. The 2024 Opening Day payroll is the only payroll in Attanasio's tenure to have dipped following a division championship. NL Central titles in 2011, 2018, and 2021 all resulted in big increases in payrolls the following year. That dip is noticeable, especially for 2024.

Also if it weren't for the Covid shortened season in 2020 cutting the actual payroll to a mere fraction of what it was supposed to be and the lack of revenue from that season leading to timid spending in 2021, we likely would've seen at least one or both of those years push into the top five. That could've meant the top five payrolls would've been the last five consecutive years. 2021 had the 5th highest end of season payroll but the Opening Day payroll was under $100MM and thus was just off the list.