Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sunday Funday - Ryan Braun's Contract

On May 15, 2008 the Milwaukee Brewers and Ryan Braun agreed to an 8-year, $45 million contract. At the time, Braun had only 600 career major league at-bats but Doug Melvin saw Braun as a franchise player which lead him to offer such a long-term contract. Braun's contract contained a modest $2.3 million signing bonus and these annual salaries:
- 2008: $455,000
- 2009: $745,000
- 2010: $1.3 million
- 2011: $4.3 million
- 2012: $6.3 million
- 2013: $8.8 million
- 2014: $10.3 million
- 2015: $12 million

Braun's contract is one of the most club friendly contracts in Milwaukee Brewers' history and will forever be known as the Anti-Jeff Supppan Contract. To put into perspective how little Braun is earning this season, he is the 16th highest paid player on the 2010 Milwaukee Brewers. There are not 15 better players in baseball right now, which shows you just how underpaid Braun is at this point. Just to drive the point home, I grouped the 15 Brewers players getting paid more than Braun into 3 categories and gave each a quick accompanying comment:

Understandable: these guys are worth what they are getting paid.
- Prince Fielder ($11 million) might be his last season in Milwaukee and might be the only player more valuable than Braun on the 2010 Brewers irrespective of salary.
- Trevor Hoffman ($7.5 million) may be the greatest closer of all-time, just his influence on the bullpen alone is practically worth his salary.
- Craig Counsell ($2.1 million) even if doesn't produce this year his salary can be chalked up to back pay for his impressive 2009 campaign.
- Todd Coffey ($2 million) not only has he been a reliable reliever since joining the Brewers, he runs so fast to the mound from the bullpen that he is a blur.

- Randy Wolf ($9.25 million with $4 million deferred) the three-year, $29 million contract he signed in the offseason makes me think of Jeff Suppan's contract...let's move on.
- Doug Davis ($4.25 million) the Brewers 9th left-handed starting pitcher.
- Dave Bush ($4.22 million) is coming off an injury riddled season. The Brewer had to bring him back but so far this spring Bush has done nothing to earn the 4th spot in the starting rotation.
- LaTroy Hawkins ($3.5 million) hopefully something other than wine gets better with age.
- Rickie Weeks ($2.75 million) 50/50 whether he will be healthy at the all-star break, when does his "potential" turn into results?
- Gregg Zaun ($1.9 million) if he hits half of what he did in the spring Doug Melvin will look much smarter than he should for letting Jason Kendall leave via free agency in the offseason.

- Jeff Suppan ($12.75 million) it took a lot but passed Jeffery Hammonds last season as the worst free agent signing in Milwaukee Brewers history.
- Bill Hall ($7.15 million) not only are the Brewers playing Hall to play for the Boston Red Sox, it isn't until 2013 that Braun will have an annual salary higher than Hall's 2010 salary...yikes.
- Corey Hart ($4.8 million) is fighting daily with Suppan for most hated Brewer.
- David Riske ($4.5 million) never a good idea to sign a relief pitcher with the last name Riske.
- Jody Gerut ($2 million) would much rather have Anthony Gwynn than Gerut.

Unfortunately for Braun, the Brewers cannot tear up his contract because starting next season his salary starts to jump in line with what he should be paid. Assuming Braun stays healthy over the life of his contract the Brewers will get roughly 5,000 at-bats for $45 million. The Brewers and Braun both took a huge gamble on May 15, 2008 and right now it looks like the Brewers won the lottery.

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