A Passover Bounty For The Hebrew Hammer

Books, Free Agents, Games, Management, Media, Paul Lebowitz's 2011 Baseball Guide, Players

Ryan Braun signed a contract extension with the Brewers through 2020.

Like Troy Tulowitzki before him, Braun’s new contract is on top of his prior contract that he signed after his rookie year. He’s guaranteed $145 million with a mutual option for 2021 and a $4 million buyout.

He’ll be 37-years-old at its conclusion.

Braun is a terrific hitter as is Tulowitzki, but I’m not a fan of these souped-up, long-term deals for players in their 20s. Essentially the Brewers and Rockies have locked themselves in with two fine players through the ends of their careers for a lot of money.

As much as there’s a new formula for value placed on players and what they’re likely to be worth financially, a 10-year commitment to one player is far too much for me to stomach. And for teams with payroll constraints like the Brewers and Rockies, it’s a risk to give even the most conscientious and serious players that kind of security.

Both Tulowitzki and Braun were signed at reasonable rates for the foreseeable future—Tulowitzki’s was until 2015; Braun’s 2016; now they’re locked in with their clubs.

Was there a sense of urgency to do this now? And the reaction to Braun making this decision to forego his chance at free agency in four years time is being treated as if he did the Brewers a tremendous favor. Ken Griffey Jr. took a far below market value contract at the time ($116.5 million) when he forced the Mariners to trade him to the Reds, the Reds and no one but the Reds. That didn’t go so well.

When Griffey’s deal was announced, Scott Boras said: “If the player owns a Rolls-Royce and he chooses to sell it at Volkswagen prices, that’s his right.”

Braun and the Brewers made a mutual decision to rely on one another for the rest of Braun’s years of productivity. Both sides seem happy, but I wouldn’t have done this due to the potential of complacency; satisfaction; injury; and age.

2021 is a long way away.

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