Today, Ryan Braun signed a 5 year extension to his current deal with the Brewers, which already ran to 2015. It covers the 2016-2020 seasons and there is a mutual option that could be worth up to $20 million for 2021, with a $4m buyout. My gut reaction is that it’s not a great deal for the Brewers, given his age during those 5 years. The Brewers are not a large market team so they have to take more calculated risks with their investments. Braun’s pricetag could be higher the closer he gets to free agency so if they believe that he’ll be a great player by 2016 they can try to lock him down early. This still feels like they jumped the gun about 3 years to early to me.
Let’s look at the extension covering his 2016 – 2021 seasons. As we’ve stressed before, it’s important to evaluate deals when they’re signed, not after the fact. Let’s work off his Oliver projection, which is handy because it provides an extended WAR forecast into 2017 that covers his peak. Oliver projects Braun’s true talent level as a .380 wOBA in 639 PAs and -2.6 in fielding. By 2016, when the new contract kicks in, he’s projected to decline to a .364 wOBA in 578 PAs with -2.4 fielding. Still good numbers but not necessarily the greatest as a LF. Oliver pegs that at 2.1 WAR. And there’s still 5 more years! Let’s use this year’s roughly $4.3 $/WAR and let’s be nice to the Brewers and only add 5% inflation (EDIT – I am a moran, and lower inflation hurts the Brewers, not helps them. I recalculated with 10% inflation) to figure out what those future dollars are worth.
Maybe Oliver is being a bit unfair to Braun, so let’s start his numbers off based on the Fangraph fans projection of 4.7 WAR in 2011, and use the same aging curve that Oliver used. Then we’ll have
We don’t have all the details on that last option year, but even if you exclude it and start with an optimistic projection for Braun *right now* it does not look like it will be good for the Brewers. Maybe they still see something all of us are missing. Okay, this looks a little better now