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Thursday April 21, 2011 11:23 pm

Milwaukee Brewers extend Ryan Braun five years early




Posted by Adrien Griffin Categories: Athletes, MLB,

Ryan BraunThe Milwaukee Brewers announced on Thursday that they and All-Star left fielder Ryan Braun have reached an agreement to extend Braun’s contract through the 2020 season, adding $105 million to his bank account. This deal is a bit surprising, if not confusing. There didn’t seem to be any rush to lock up Braun long-term, but now that they have, there will be a lot of second-guessing the decision, especially the economic impact it will have on the Brewers long-term.

Everybody knows that the Brewers don’t have the financial ability to keep Prince Fielder in town. He’ll command a royal sum that will make Braun’s extension look like your childhood allowance. But even the “modest” nine-figures Braun will get effectively handcuffs Milwaukee’s future financial flexibility. Right now, the Brewers’ payroll is hovering around $85 million. In five years, even if they go up to $100 million, Braun’s payday alone will comprise about 20 percent of that.

The core of the Brewers rests with Braun, Yovani Gallardo, Corey Hart, Rickie Weeks and now Zack Greinke, who will account for a very significant portion of the Brewers’ payroll. For a small market team, that leaves previous little money in reserve to lock up future young stars coming up through the system. More importantly, that might also block them from acquiring the one or two pieces they made need to add depth via free agency, unless, of course, the Brewers shed themselves of a few of these big contracts in the next five years.

Nobody doubts that Braun is an extremely talented baseball player, especially for his offensive skill, and he is entering his prime years in the league. But as time passes, his bat speed will slow down, his range in left field will decrease and his worth as a $16-$20 million per year player will come into question. The Brewers still had five years left on Braun’s contract. Waiting three, maybe even four years to extend the contract would have been better. Instead, Braun becomes the franchise player who better produce or else he’ll become the franchise whipping boy.

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