When all was said and done, the Milwaukee Brewers avoided a repeat of last season when they agreed to deals with all of their arbitration eligible players yesterday. But until late last night, it didn't look like that was going to be the case.
With the team finding agreements with all other applicable players as the day went on, the one exception was one of the team's most important players, 2023 All-Star closer and two-time NL Reliever of the Year Devin Williams.
It even got to the point where the teams ended up filing arbitration values by the 8pm Thursday deadline. Those numbers were far enough apart where it seemed like there was a good chance fans would see a repeat of the somewhat ugly arbitration situation with the team and Corbin Burnes the previous offseason.
Little did everyone know, however, that the Brewers front office and Williams's camp were working behind the scenes to still get a deal done. That's exactly what ended up happening before the night was over with implications for the 2025 season as well.
The Brewers avoided arbitration with closer Devin Williams by signing him to a one-year contract for 2024 with a club option for 2025.
As Brewers fans were starting to wonder how the arbitration situation with Williams might ultimately play out, ESPN's Jeff Passan came to the rescue and broke the news of the deal late last night with others confirming the deal as well.
According to Passan, Williams will receive a $7MM salary for the upcoming 2024 season. That ended up being a solid amount over the $6.5MM that MLB Trade Rumors projected he would receive in their predictions at the beginning of the offseason.
Also per Passan, the contract comes with a club option for the 2025 season, Williams's final year of arbitration. Should it be picked up, it would pay $10.5MM with a chance at $1MM in escalators. It also comes with the option of a $250k buyout. That value should be roughly in line with what Williams's 2025 projection would climb to anyway, so as long as he stays on track, it's likely the option would be picked up.
Prior to the deal being completed, Williams had filed an arbitration value of $7.3MM while the Brewers filed at $6.65MM, leaving a pretty significant gap between the two sides. That made it even more imperative that a deal get done before going to a hearing.
Thankfully, the two sides never stopped talking and a deal was indeed able to get done. Now the team can instead focus on filling the rest of the roster and Williams can instead focus on how to once again terrorize opposing batters in 2024.