After a tumultuous season where the Brewers traded away a franchise cornerstone player in Josh Hader partly because they knew they wouldn't be able to extend his contract, the Brewers seem to be engaging in extension talks with some of their remaining core players this offseason.
The most obvious extension candidate the Brewers have on the position player side is shortstop Willy Adames. Since arriving in Milwaukee in May 2021, Adames has hit .256/.325/.483 with 57 doubles, 51 homers, and a 122 OPS+. Adames has two years of arbitration eligibility remaining before reaching free agency.
If Adames reaches the open market, he's gone. It's as simple as that. So, it would behoove the Brewers to ensure their franchise shortstop that they have been searching for for a long time doesn't reach the open market and instead signs an extension to stay in Milwaukee.
It appears they are doing just that.
The Milwaukee Brewers have reportedly opened contract extension talks with shortstop Willy Adames and Adames is looking to stay.
In a recent interview with Adam McCalvy, Adames confirmed that he's had conversations with the Brewers about an extension and that he is willing to sign one to stay in Milwaukee.
"We’ve had conversations about that, and I let them know that obviously I want to stay. I like it here. I just have to do my job and let my agents handle that. I’m always open to listen to what they’re thinking, and if it’s something that’s good for both sides, I’m open to it. I let my agent handle that. I love it here, I feel good here, I feel comfortable here and I wish I could stay here the rest of my career. But at the end of the day, they have to put everything together and see if we can work something out. Hopefully we can, and we can make it happen. But I’m always willing to hear what they have to say."- Willy Adames
The Brewers clearly want him to stay. Willy Adames wants to stay. That is a very good start.
Adames is going to let his agents handle the negotiations. That's what every player says and that's the smart move. He clearly wants to be here and has been successful in Milwaukee. It's a mutually beneficial relationship but the contract has to also be mutually beneficial.
Now Adames could simply tell his agents to get a deal done no matter what, which may result in a more team-friendly contract that ensures he stays, but that doesn't seem to be a likely scenario. Adames was obviously very complimentary of Milwaukee in his comments but he also talked about the deal having to be good for both sides, including him, and they have to see if they can work something out. That's no guarantee that they can work something out.
The Brewers won't be able to get away with an Aaron Ashby-type or Freddy Peralta-type extension with Adames. He's a shortstop, and a damn good one. He's excellent on offense and on defense, putting up a 4.4 bWAR in 2022. When you play a position that important, and play it that well, you're going to get paid a lot of money.
Will these talks actually culminate in a contract extension for Adames? Maybe. But there's no guarantee. With an ever-increasing payroll due to a high number of arbitration eligible players, the Brewers don't have a lot of payroll flexibility. Plus they have two other extension candidates in Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff to think about. What is the maximum salary the Brewers are willing/able to pay Adames in an extension? That's what we're going to have to find out over the course of these talks.
But the important part is that talks have begun. They have broached the topic and are having conversations with Adames. That's a good start. With a large number of elite shortstops on the free agent market this winter, it's likely Adames' agents will hold off on agreeing to any extension until those players are signed and they know what the going rate is for those shortstops, and they can price Adames' contract accordingly.
We likely won't see this extension completed until closer to spring training, if we see it completed at all. But the talks have started, and that should give us all some hope.