In a landmark, franchise altering move, the Milwaukee Brewers have secured the future of their organization, signing their top minor league prospect, outfielder Jackson Chourio, to a record-setting extension for a player that has yet to make their MLB debut.
After months of negotiations, the Brewers and Chourio agreed to a 8 year contract for $80 million. The contract also carries two team option years that brings the total to 10 possible years.
Chourio is a five tool outfielder that is a consensus top-two prospect in all of baseball. He's the highest rated Brewers prospect in Baseball America's history and is regarded in the tier of Ronald Acuna, Vlad Guerrero Jr, Julio Rodriguez, and Juan Soto as these uber-prospects that can change the trajectory of an organization.
Just six players in MLB history have signed long-term contracts like this before their MLB debut, the largest of which was Luis Robert's deal for six years and $50MM. Jackson Chourio has just blown that out of the water and he'll be the face of the franchise in Milwaukee starting in 2024.
Chourio spent most of the 2023 season in Double-A Biloxi, where he hit .280/.336/.437 with 23 doubles, 22 homers, and 43 stolen bases. His numbers were brought down by the first half use of pre-tacked baseballs. He hit just .239/.304/.410 with those baseballs, and once the league switched to the normal ball, Chourio exploded, hitting .323/.380/.544 the rest of the way.
One of the big points of progress in Chourio's development this year was cutting down his strikeout rate. He went from 118 strikeouts in 400 ABs a year ago to just 104 strikeouts this year in 531 ABs. That's a reduction in 14 total strikeouts in 131 more at-bats. Doing so at more advanced levels is quite impressive.
Chourio's lack of Triple-A at-bats would've made it likely that he could miss out on the Opening Day roster with the Brewers opting for a little more seasoning of their top prospect, which would ultimately lead to an extra year of team control after about two weeks. Instead, the Brewers chose to ink their best hitting prospect since Ryan Braun to a long-term deal, removing service time from consideration.
This contract extension all but guarantees Chourio will be on the Brewers Opening Day roster in 2024 and it secures the future for both team and player.
For the Brewers, this move makes sense because it keeps the top talent in the organization with Milwaukee for the long-term. It removes any concerns about possibly having to trade him away after a few years because he's getting too expensive. It keeps him in Milwaukee even longer than he originally would. Also, it gives the team cost-certainty over Chourio, and this extension avoids the same fate as Josh Hader had, or Corbin Burnes, or what the Nationals had with Juan Soto. The Brewers are going the path of Acuna and the Braves, Julio Rodriguez and the Mariners, etc.
For Chourio, this move secures his long-term future, giving him a large, guaranteed amount of money earlier in his career and it gets him to the big leagues faster, avoiding any service time manipulation games or trade speculation down the road. Also, because he's so young, Chourio will be able to hit the open market (if he doesn't sign another extension before then) still in his prime earning age for him to get another big contract if he performs up to expectations.
Chourio's extension and arrival means he will command significant playing time in a crowded outfield group, which could push one of the other top outfield prospects, Joey Wiemer, Garrett Mitchell, and Sal Frelick, to the trade block.
The Brewers have signed young players to early career extensions before. Ryan Braun signed an 8 year deal after his rookie season, Freddy Peralta signed a 5 year deal back in 2020, Aaron Ashby signed a long term deal in his rookie season, and now Jackson Chourio joins the ranks, and he signs earliest of them all.