The Milwaukee Brewers still very well have a chance to make the playoffs, but the attention of many has shifted focus. A large portion of the roster is set to exit team control within the next few years. Along with this, some star players are going to be asking for hefty raises.
One player in particular has been at the root of extension discussions for the Brewers. Corbin Burnes is putting together his third great season in the MLB and he will become a free agent in 2025. Burnes hasn’t been silent about the lack of an extension, but will the Brewers spend the money needed to keep the ace?
History Might Repeat Itself for the Brewers
Since the creation of the club, the Brewers have never been spenders. Along with that, they also haven’t adapted to the new spending habits of the rest of the league. The Brewers started this season with a payroll of $130 million which ranked 19th in the league. It is also $18 million less than the league average and nearly half of what some of the top playoff teams are paying.
Money doesn’t grow on trees and the Brewers can’t just magically make up the financial ground between them and the other teams. However, this is the most ever spent in payroll for the Brewers and past spending trends don’t support the Brewers spending more money. In the past, whenever the team had raised their payroll, they dropped the payroll the next year. For example, in 2009 the payroll was just over $80 million, then in 2010 it was $90 million. Then, from 2011-2012 the payrolls were $83.5 million and $98 million.
The only real explanation for such a payroll fluctuation is that less money is being spent. The team has never been comfortable with big name free agent signings. Due to this, the majority of the players they sign are in house, or they are acquired through trades (Renfroe, Yelich). This trend and approach to the financial side of the team means that the Brewers will likely let people walk soon, but the question is who.
How Burnes gets an Extension From the Brewers
To be perfectly honest, nobody really knows how much Burnes is worth. He has astronomic value, but the other starting pitchers who have signed extensions are nowhere near his value. There isn’t a great reference deal, except for Jacob DeGrom’s four year, $120 million extension he signed in 2019. Burnes is the closest to DeGrom statistically, which bodes well for him financially, but might price him out of Milwaukee.
Corbin Burnes, Wicked Cutter and Changeup. 🤢 pic.twitter.com/sxMpnLwNL8
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 15, 2022
Keeping Corbin Burnes won’t be cheap and everyone knew it could break the bank. The issue is the Brewers also have Brandon Woodruff, Willy Adames, Adrian Houser, and Eric Lauer who are all set to hit free agency in 2025. Burnes can be signed, but if the spending doesn’t increase it will be hard to build a cheaper squad around him.
If the Brewers were to spend $18 million more a year to stay at league average, they could keep Burnes. That is enough money for one great player, or multiple pieces the team may need. Burnes is a top shelf player, but that doesn’t mean he will cost an astronomical amount of money. Realistically an extension can get done in the future for the pitcher. The issue, however, is that the Brewers have only given out one nine-figure contract. Yelich is and will be a proud Brewer for years to come.
— MLB (@MLB) May 11, 2022
As much as everyone loves Yelich though, nine-figure contracts hurt financially. If the Brewers sign Burnes to a similar deal, nearly half the payroll is going to be two players. The Brewers would need to spend more at that point to field a skilled team around them. There might have to be some tough decision coming in the future for Milwaukee if they can’t find a way to keep everyone.