Brewers shortstop Willy Adames has been vocal about his desire to sign a long term contract extension with Milwaukee and stay here for the rest of his career. To this point, the Brewers haven't seemed quite as interested in such an arrangement.
The Brewers had some willingness to engage with Adames on a contract extension but have backed off recently which has little to do with his play on the field and more to do with the prices of the shortstop market, prices that skyrocketed this past offseason.
Willy Adames has noticed those prices too, and it seems he's admitting that he won't be staying with the Brewers beyond 2024 because of it.
"I wish I could stay here, I really like this organization, I like the guys, I love the city, I love the fans. I wish I could stay here" is what Adames said after being asked about if his feelings are still the same about a long term contract after seeing how high of a bar the shortstop market set this offseason.
The operative word here is 'could'. That sentence "I wish I could stay here" makes it sound like staying here won't happen, that it's already a foregone conclusion that he won't. Adames is an elite shortstop, top 10 in the league, and elite shortstops have just gotten paid big bucks and soon enough Adames will be looking for his share of that. He'll be entering free agency in a relatively weak class for shortstops in 2024 and with prices likely to continue to rise, he'll be in high demand.
Sure, Adames could take a discount to stay with an organization he really wants to be with, but that'll also depress the market for shortstops and Adames was just referring to how all those elite shortstops set the bar higher for guys like him coming up and looking to get paid. If he would take a discount to stay with Milwaukee, it would be a small one, not a large one that the Brewers need so they can "afford" to bring him back.
While many could sit here and debate the term "afford", that's a different conversation. The reality is the Brewers do operate with payroll constraints and the rising prices on the shortstop market make it difficult for the Brewers to compete to pay market value for a player like Adames while also building a good team around him.
The Brewers have likely realized that Adames is simply out of their league when it comes to salary. They know they won't be able to pay him the prices he'll want and deserve. It sounds like Adames has come to that realization as well. He wishes he could stay, but it sounds like he knows he won't. He knows they can't afford him.
It's a shame. Adames is the best shortstop the Brewers have had since Robin Yount. After years of searching for an answer at the most important position on the field, they finally found their guy but they won't be able to keep him around for the long term. He's a star that wants to stay in Milwaukee, that's a rare breed. But just like Prince Fielder, just like CC Sabathia, just like the other stars that came and left because Milwaukee couldn't afford them, he'll leave either in a trade or in free agency and sign a big contract with some team that has the willingness to pay him what he deserves.
Since the organization had damaged their relationship with Corbin Burnes and now with Adames realizing he won't be sticking around, the Brewers are fast eliminating their top contract extension candidates. There's still Brandon Woodruff who might potentially stay. He at least hasn't spoken publicly about disagreements with the club or how he'll be too expensive for the team to sign, so maybe there's a chance?
Adames is slated to reach free agency after 2024. By the time we reach 2025, it's looking like this team will be without its star shortstop and will have to be on the search for another one. Hopefully it won't take another 40 years like the last search.