Brewers SS Willy Adames is setting himself up for a major payday this offseason

Willy Adames is a free agent at the end of the 2024 season
Chicago Cubs v Milwaukee Brewers
Chicago Cubs v Milwaukee Brewers / Stacy Revere/GettyImages

Willy Adames is going to get paid this winter and it's not likely to be by the Milwaukee Brewers. While free agency is several months away and we're still in the early part of the regular season, this reality is not going to change over the next few months.

Adames has been on a hot stretch the past few games, upping his season numbers to a .260/.335/.461 slash line with 17 doubles, nine homers, and 39 RBIs. He has a 121 OPS+, which means he's 21% above league average offensively and that number keeps on going up.

In his last year of arbitration, the 28 year old Adames is earning $12.25MM and he's set to earn much, much more in a long-term deal on the open market this winter.

Why Willy Adames is going to get a massive payday

Starting shortstops are tough to find at the major league level. Few athletes are actually able to play up to the standard necessary to be an everyday player at such a demanding defensive position. Even fewer among that group are able to provide a net positive value offensively as well.

Brewers fans have had complaints about Adames' lower batting averages the last few years and high number of swing and miss. While his 28th percentile whiff rate certainly isn't ideal, Willy Adames is a major threat at the plate. He's led the league among shortstops in home runs since arriving in Milwaukee. While home runs aren't everything, they certainly help you get paid, especially at a position where power isn't expected.

His entire slash line is up this year from last year and he's around an .800 OPS hitter once again. There is massive value in that kind of output from really any position but especially a starting shortstop, who is also an elite defender.

Adames has a 6 OAA, which is in the 97th percentile in the league. His range, his throwing arm, his glove is all well above average or even elite. An above average, possibly elite defender with above average offensive production at a premium position that's still on the right side of 30 is going to be richly rewarded by the open market.

Scarcity plays a factor

A few years ago, there were four or five top shelf shortstops that hit the free agent market at the same time. They all were handsomely rewarded with major contracts, but they were in the tier above Adames as shortstops. However, the benefit for Adames this year is that he's the top available shortstop and his closest competition isn't even close.

The dramatic drop off of Tim Anderson the last few years eliminated the only other potential starting shortstop from competing with Adames on the open market. He was non-tendered by the White Sox last offseason and lingered for a long time on the open market before finally finding a one year, $5MM deal with Miami, and his drop off at the plate is getting worse.

Ha-Seong Kim is the next closest competition to Adames in the shortstop market. However, he splits his time between short, second base, and third base while Adames is an everyday shortstop. Kim's defense certainly could earn him an everyday shortstop role on the open market and earn that kind of money, but Adames is a better all around bat and should find a larger payday. Kim would present more of a backup option if a team can't get Adames.

Those two are the only starting caliber shortstops set to hit the market this winter. Adames is the clear best option and can make the case for a deal similar in value to Javier Baez, Dansby Swanson, and Trevor Story. Even if Adames doesn't reach the $140MM-$175MM range in his contract, he is a lock to earn a nine figure contract.

If Adames keeps up this great season in his contract year, he'll put himself in the conversation for that $140MM-$175MM long term contract over six years or more. The Brewers are almost assuredly not going to be the team that gives him that contract.

The Brewers will give Adames a qualifying offer this winter, provided he's not traded at the Trade Deadline. Adames is going to reject that qualifying offer and when he signs for anything above $50MM, which is virtual guarantee, the Brewers would receive a Draft pick immediately after the first round in the 2025 MLB Draft.

The big payday is coming for Adames. He's putting up great numbers in a contract year and he's the only shortstop that will be on the free agent market that teams in need of one can plug in to boost their lineup.