The last of the Big Four free agent shortstops this offseason has signed. Dansby Swanson signed a seven year, $177MM contract with... the Chicago Cubs. The Brewers will have to get used to seeing more of Swanson in the coming years.
Not only does that signing have an effect on the Brewers on the field as they'll be seeing Swanson more often, but it also has an effect on how the Brewers can negotiate an extension with their own shortstop, Willy Adames.
Ever since arriving in Milwaukee in May 2021, Willy Adames has been an electric player for the Brewers and quickly put himself on the map for a contract extension. Reports are preliminary extension talks have even begun between the two sides. Adames' agents were smart to wait to complete any extension until after the big free agent shortstops had signed.
The market was particularly friendly to the free agent shortstops this winter. Trea Turner, Xander Bogaerts, and Carlos Correa all secured 11+ year contracts for $280+MM. Those three are the elite of the elite shortstops in baseball. Willy Adames, as good as he is, isn't quite in that category and wouldn't command that kind of salary, so they aren't great comps for him.
Dansby Swanson however, is a lot closer to the level of player that Adames is which makes his contract much more interesting to the Brewers. Adames is a better offensive player than Swanson, but Swanson is a better defender.
The Dansby Swanson contract sets a more realistic expectation for what a Willy Adames contract extension could look like.
Swanson entered free agency heading into his age-29 season. Willy Adames is also slated to reach free agency entering his age-29 season. Given how much money teams were willing to shell out to shortstops this winter, reaching free agency may become an even more attractive option for Adames rather than signing an extension.
Because both Swanson and Adames fall into the 'really good, but not elite' category of shortstops, their price ranges should be similar. Both fall into the back half of the Top 10 of MLB shortstops in WAR over the last couple seasons. Swanson still ranks above Adames, however.
The Swanson contract of seven years and $177MM is likely to be the ceiling for a Willy Adames contract. The floor is likely Trevor Story's six year, $140MM contract.
Adames puts up better numbers both offensively and defensively than Trevor Story and is likely to beat his 6/140 contract with the Red Sox on the open market, which means the Brewers will have to beat that if they're going to sign him to an extension.
Based on this, I would estimate that an Adames contract extension would be around 6-7 years and somewhere between $145MM-$175MM. Adames' agents are likely to push for something similar to Swanson's contract, but he'll likely end up with something a little below that and the Brewers would obviously prefer to be on the lower end of this range.
Perhaps the Brewers would be willing to go extra years to lower the AAV of the contract. For example, an eight year, $160MM contract would put Adames at a $20MM AAV, which gives Adames the guaranteed money totals he would be seeking and keep his yearly salary reasonable for the Brewers to handle and still field a competitive team around him and Yelich. After all, these top shortstops of Turner, Correa, and Bogaerts each sacrificed more on the AAV in exchange for extra years on the contract.
As long as Adames isn't concerned about setting the top AAV, and as long as the Brewers are willing to go an extra year or two, there's a path to be had for a deal.
The Swanson deal likely sets a cap on Adames' contract. It's unlikely he'll command more total dollars than him. As much as Adames' agent was paying attention to the deals for Turner and Correa, the Swanson contract is the one that has the most impact on Adames' future contract.