In this age of high-priced Major League Baseball free agents, a world in which making close to $40 million a year will soon be commonplace, it’s refreshing to know there are still players who value personal happiness over maximum money.
The Milwaukee Brewers make it official and sign outfielder Christian Yelich to a long-term contract extension that should keep him with the team for the remainder of his career.
But unlike Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon, he will do so a cost well below the market price for a player of his impact.
Long before he was traded to the Brewers prior to the 2018 season, Yelich signed a seven-year, $49.57 million deal with the Miami Marlins that was so market friendly the Brewers decided to absorb the final four years.
Yelich is guaranteed $27.75 million over the remaining life of the contract: $12.5 million this year, $14 million in 2021 and a $1.25 million buyout of a 2022 team option for $16 million.
Sources are now telling ESPN and The Associated Press that Yelich’s new deal added seven more years and increase its value to almost $215 million.
“He definitely deserves it,” Brewers center fielder told The Associated Press. “The guy’s definitely the best player on our team. He rakes. Like I said, he got a deserving contract for sure.”
Let’s look at the deal this way: Yelich would have become a free agent after the 2020 season had he not signed that original extension with the Marlins. He would have hit free agency at 28 years old, in his prime. He could have sold himself as the 2018 National League MVP and the runner-up in 2019.
In 2018, he led the National League with a .326 batting average and .598 slugging percentage while helping the Brewers to the NL Championship Series.
Yelich hit 44 homers and won another NL batting title with a career-high .329 average last season. He was on his way to another MVP before breaking his right kneecap on Sept. 10.
How much money do you think a guy like that could make? If you use the current cost of business as a guide, it’s almost certain he could have gotten at least 10 years and $350 million.
Yelich was asked about this on Wednesday and politely refused to comment. The Brewers didn’t want to say anything, either. But you can come to the conclusion Yelich obviously loves it in Milwaukee and wants to be a part of the organization for as long as he can.
And if it meant taking less money from a team that can’t spend like the Dodgers and Yankees, then so be it. Money isn’t everything and we all know you can live pretty well on $215 million.
“Christian, in his first two years here, has done incredible things,” manager Craig Counsell told The Associated Press. “I think he’s taken this challenge, and took a trade that was probably to a place that he wasn’t sure about at the outset of it and made the best of it and found a place that he really likes to play.”
The Brewers have been planning for this. They allowed infielder Mike Moustakas and catcher Yasmani Grandal to leave via free agent and in the process saved themselves $30 million.
“He’s the face of our franchise. He’s our guy,” Brewers pitcher Brent Suter told The Associated Press. “So to see him locked in for nine years is incredible. Very happy day.”
If will be interesting to hear what other Major League players and their union have to say about the Yelich deal. Some may say it devalues the market for a player of his skill set, something that could hurt Mookie Betts when he becomes a free agent following the 2020 season or Francisco Lindor in 2021.
You cares what they think? Everyone is entitled to make their own choice and Yelich has obviously decided staying where he is was his top priority. He should be congratulated for making that his top priority.
Despite the financial constraints the Brewers may face, Yelich will also never need to worry about their lack of competitiveness. They are not the Pirates or Marlins, who look to be economical more than viable.
This obviously will be a great deal for both sides.