The Milwaukee Brewers once again find themselves in the news cycle this offseason, except this time around, it’s for a much different reason.
Per Jon Heyman, the Brewers are expected to sign top prospect Jackson Chourio to a record-breaking eight-year extension on Thursday. The new deal is expected to be worth close to $80 million, with two club options at the tail end of the contract.
This extension would be the longest and richest deal for any player yet to make their MLB debut. Luis Robert Jr. of the Chicago White Sox most recently held that title atop a list of five players who signed extensions with zero days of MLB service time:
|Jackson Chourio (OF – Milwaukee Brewers)
|*Eight years, ~$80 million
|Luis Robert Jr. (OF – Chicago White Sox)
|Six years, $50 million
|Eloy Jiménez (OF – Chicago White Sox)
|Six years, $43 million
|Scott Kingery (2B – Philadelphia Phillies)
|Six years, $24 million
|Evan White (1B – Seattle Mariners)
|Six years, $24 million
|Jon Singleton (1B – Houston Astros)
|Five years, $10 million
Jackson Chourio, 19, is the team’s top prospect and Just Baseball’s No. 3 overall prospect. He signed with the Brewers as an international free agent at the age of 16 out of Venezuela back in 2021, and he has been on a fast-ascending path through their system ever since.
Chourio made a name for himself as he ripped through the lower levels of the minor leagues as an 18-year-old, and now he is getting paid for his incredible potential. He has plus tools across the board, and he can truly impact the game in a multitude of ways.
He’s an explosive athlete who has the capability to steal upwards of 35 bags, and he brings Gold Glove-caliber defense to the outfield as well.
Offensively, Chourio has impressive bat speed to go with incredible barrel control. He displays effortless power and has the ability to drive the ball to all parts of the field with ease. At such a young age, he’s already a tremendous athlete with a very high ceiling. The Brewers took a shot on locking him up now, and the move could pay enormous dividends for them in the future.
Brewers Secure Their Young Star
Obviously, there’s risk in signing a player who has yet to see a pitch at the big league level to such a luxurious extension. However, for small market teams, this is the kind of gamble they need to take in order to have a shot at being competitive.
The Brewers can’t always compete financially for some of the top players in free agency. Because of this, it’s essential they roll the dice on a player like Chourio, who has superstar potential.
If Chourio becomes the player they think he can be, then his price would skyrocket if he were to hit the open market. There’s always the chance that, if the Brewers don’t take a shot and lock him up now, they risk losing him to a higher bidder down the road.
The two club options at the end of the contract are essential for Milwaukee. It helps mitigate some of the risk in locking up such a young player. Baseball is unpredictable, and if things go south for whatever reason, the options give them an out at the end of the deal.
On the flip side, if Chourio is successful at the big league level, the club options could be bargains for the Brewers. They help bypass Chourio’s first few years of free agency, and the Brewers could keep him around for an average annual value significantly cheaper than he would earn on the open market.
That is generally the risk/reward of a contract extension for a player of such a young age. The Brewers pay a little more upfront in hopes of getting extreme value at the end of the deal.
For Chourio, he receives immense financial security for the next decade, as a teenager no less, before he even makes his MLB debut. Additionally, a contract of this length will still allow him to reach free agency in his prime earning years later down the road, giving him the opportunity to secure another hefty deal if things go well.
Logjam in the Outfield
After offering him such a lucrative extension, Milwaukee will almost certainly promote Chourio to be their Opening Day center fielder in 2024. Additionally, Christian Yelich isn’t going anywhere any time soon, nor does he have any intention of moving over to first base.
With Yelich holding down left field and Chourio manning center for the foreseeable future, there are a lot of mouths to feed for one starting role in right field.
There is a very strong probability that the Brewers move on from one, or two, of their former top prospects. Sal Frelick, Garrett Mitchell, and Joey Wiemer are all very talented players who deserve significant playing time, but there simply isn’t enough opportunity for all three in Milwaukee’s outfield.
The Brewers have a chance to trade from a surplus and cash in on some of their former top-100 prospects to address other needs on their roster. Not to mention, Blake Perkins and Tyrone Taylor will be in the mix for some playing time as well next season.
For years, the Brewers have thrived on having talented depth in order to have a constant stream of players flow through the big league roster at any given time. However, with Chourio being the future of Milwaukee’s outfield, they need to consider reallocating their assets in some way this winter to address some bigger needs on their roster.
It has been a rough few weeks for the Brewers. Between Craig Counsell’s shocking departure, the non-tender of beloved starter Brandon Woodruff, and the potential fire sale of some of their biggest stars, the news cycle has been rather gloomy for Brewers fans.
But now, fans can cling onto some immensely exciting news regarding this franchise-altering decision for the future of their ball club. Chourio is an organizational cornerstone who is now the face of their franchise, and he has what it takes to be a superstar in Milwaukee for the next decade.