Why the Brewers should start contract extension talks with William Contreras right now

Why not lock up arguably your best hitter?
Apr 14, 2024; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Milwaukee Brewers catcher William Contreras (24) celebrates
Apr 14, 2024; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Milwaukee Brewers catcher William Contreras (24) celebrates / Reggie Hildred-USA TODAY Sports

The Milwaukee Brewers currently have a rising star in catcher William Contreras on their team. He was acquired via trade during the 2022-2023 offseason during a three team trade, he finished 11th in MVP voting last season, and is off to a terrific start this year.

At 26 years old Contreras is currently in his final pre-arbitration year. This means he will get a significant pay increase next season. With that in mind, should the Brewers consider locking him up by giving him a contract extension?

The Milwaukee Brewers should be pushing for William Contreras to sign a contract extension.

William Contreras may be one of the league's most underrated stars. Since the start of last year he is currently the fifth most valuable player in the National League in terms of fWAR at 6.4. Only Ronald Acuna Jr, Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman, and Matt Olson have higher fWAR totals.

If Contreras continues at his current pace his price tag is going to skyrocket and he likely will become too expensive for the Brewers to keep once his team control expires in 2027. In theory, Jeferson Quero could be his successor but his future is currently a little cloudy after undergoing shoulder surgery that will cost him the entire 2024 season.

Should the Brewers be content in managing Contreras' salary on a year-to-year basis, that includes potentially going through an arbitration hearing, then it will only be a matter of time before trade rumors and speculations start to occur. To avoid this, Milwaukee should seriously consider starting contract extension talks now.

What would a potential William Contreras Contract Extension look like?

During the offseason, the market for contract extensions at the catcher position saw history be made. This occurred when the Los Angeles Dodgers locked up Will Smith, who had two years of team control remaining, for the next decade with a contract value of $140 million. No catcher had ever received a 10 year extension, but in regard to monetary value it did not surpass Buster Posey's $167 million deal or Joe Mauer's $184 million.

If we take a look at some of the top contracts among active catchers a few that stand out are to J.T. Realmuto, Willson Contreras, and Sean Murphy. Realmuto signed just before becoming a free agent in which he got a five year, $115 million deal whereas Willson, William's brother, inked a five year, $87.5 million as a free agent. Lastly, Murphy signed a six year, $73 million deal in which all of his arbitration years were bought out plus at minimum three years beyond.

Back in March The Athletic projected that a William Contreras contract extension could be in the six year, $70 million range. To me that duration seems appropriate, but closer to the $80-90 million range is more likely. $80 million across six years gives the contract an average annual value (AAV) of $13.33 million and $90 million a $15.00 million AAV.

Timing-wise, delaying talks will likely only make matters worse for the Brewers because they will want to beat the Baltimore Orioles to the punch. Their catcher, Adley Rutschman, is also an extension candidate. A season ago Contreras actually posted a better WAR than him, but The Athletic still projected Rutschman to ink a larger deal at eight years, $156 million ($19.5 million AAV). Both catchers are currently 26 years old and are under control through the 2027 season.

Looking into a William Contreras contract extension sooner rather than later should be a top priority for the Brewers. If our projections are accurate locking one of the games best catchers up for $15.00 million a year or less is an opportunity that Milwaukee needs to capitalize on.

The organization should have looked into doing this with previous stars Josh Hader and Corbin Burnes, but they didn't. Hopefully they realize that a talent like Contreras is hard to find and securing him throughout his prime years would be extremely beneficial.