Ballparking A Corbin Burnes Extension

After a 2021 season that saw them run away with NL Central behind a stable of controllable weapons that posted high-end numbers for wages well below market value, the Brewers pitching staff are among the Major League Baseball cravings. . While many of their salaries will increase through arbitration in 2022 – Brandon’s Woodruff and Josh hader are each slated for hefty increases – no decision in which Brewers general manager Matt Arnold will have a bigger impact on the club’s future than his approach to the reigning NL award winner Cy Young Corbin Burnes.

After pitching last season for a relatively modest $ 608,000, MLBTR’s Matt Swartz announced that Burnes would receive a salary of $ 4 million in 2022, his first year of officiating eligibility, if he and the Brewers chose to go this route. While clearly not cheap, Arnold and the Brewers will at least want to kick the tires on a possible extension with their ace. With dollars flying at an unprecedented rate ahead of the lockdown, however, what such an extension might look like remains an open question. If the Brewers followed the path of refereeing during Burnes’ term of eligibility, he would become a free agent after his season at 29 in 2024.

While figuring out a length or dollar figure would be pure guesswork, we can safely say that a Burnes extension won’t come cheap. Burnes’ 2021 star didn’t come out of nowhere, exactly, but few would have predicted the dominance he was displaying, especially since he had cracked the top prospect lists shortly before his 2018 debut. and entered 2021 with just 13 major championships in life. departures. He had also fallen on his face during a rotation stint to open the 2019 season, allowing 11 home runs in three outings, and did only slightly better outside the bullpen (7.76 ERA in 28 appearances in relief, 10.70 in four starts).

Burnes’ huge step forward in 2020 is largely the result of a plummeting home run rate (from 7.2% in 2019 to a tiny 0.8% in 2020). In 2021, he almost maintained the same low homerun rate (1.1%) while cutting his walk rate by almost half to the lowest level in the Netherlands (from 10% in 2020 to 5, 2% in 2021), while its home run rate, K rate (35.6%), K / BB ratio (6.88) and FIP (1.63) all lead the majors among qualified starters. He also won the ERA Big League Title with a score of 2.43 in 167 innings.

Given the relative scarcity of launchers of Burnes’ caliber at this point in their careers, comparisons are scarce. The White Sox donated Chris Sale $ 32 million over five years before the 2013 season, but he was still a year away from officiating and only had one year as a starter – and no Cy Young – under his belt at the time. The seven years and $ 175 million that the Nationals gave Etienne Strasbourg in May 2016, which also included an opt-out that he ended up using, only took place a few months before Strasbourg reached free agency (albeit with a Tommy John operation on the record). ). In the same way, Jacob of GromThe five-year, $ 137.5 million whopper arrived just ahead of his arbitrary final year. (On the one hand, deGrom was 31 in 2019, significantly older than Burnes, but is also in a class of its own.)

Maybe a better composition is Aaron NolaFour-year, $ 45 million pact (also with a club option) with the Phillies in 2019, which came around the same time in its refereeing cycle, though the comparison is far from perfect. While Nola was a year younger than Burnes at the time and had a longer track record as an effective starter in the big leagues, he had never reached (and hasn’t reached since) Quite the heights of Burnes over the past two seasons. So the closest comparison is probably the $ 50 million over five years that the Rays gave to Blake snell after his dominant season at Cy Young in 2018. The deferred deal, which came a year before Snell’s eligibility for arbitration, followed a breakout campaign following strong but not spectacular performances during from the previous two years.

The Brewers will likely be more than willing to give Burnes (and his dominant cutter) a little more in terms of the years and dollars the Phillies gave Nola or the Rays gave Snell, perhaps bringing him closer. a little more Strasbourg and deGrom. . They should also have money to spend; the eight-figure salaries of Avisail Garcia (signed with the Marlins) and Jackie Bradley Jr. (traded to Red Sox) both got off their books, while Lorenzo Cain‘s will do the same after playing its $ 18 million guarantee in 2022. They will stay hooked at $ 26 million a year for Christian Yelich until 2028, but they otherwise have no salary commitment in 2023 beyond $ 3.735 million to start Freddy peralta and a $ 2 million buyout from the second baseman Kolten Wong.

Of course, they’ll also want to increase a lineup that was way behind the rotation in overall production, but figuring out the plan with their rotation anchor will definitely be their first priority. Something in the neighborhood of a five or six year warranty that pushes the nine-digit bar – perhaps also including performance escalators and / or a high-priced club option or two – might be enough to satisfy the demand. club and player, ensuring the Brewers cost certainty and control over their franchise player beyond his years of officiating, and Burne enjoys significant financial security.

With the Little Market Brewers amid a window of contention and Burnes teammates Woodruff and Peralta in club control through 2024 and 2026, respectively, Brewers fans can likely count on the same kind of pitcher from high-end start that propelled the 2021 club for at least a few more years, regardless of Burnes’ contract status. left-handed Eric lauer and late flowering Adrien houser will likely return to complete the rotation in 2022, each in their first arbitration eligibility, granting the club an enviable expectation of consistency in the rotation. End of studies perspective Aaron Ashby, who threw at a 4.55 ERA in 31 2/3 innings in 2021, can also push for a rotating spot, though Craig Counsell may choose to keep him in the pen (or hide him in AAA ) until his services as a starter are mandatory.

While small market brewers will likely have to shell out a few more years and money than they would like in the long run, it may just be a risk they have to take. If Burnes can stay healthy and replicate his recent dominance into his early 30s, the club would at least have the kind of top-level workhorse that perennial playoffs rely on to reach the tournament year after year. And if Burnes preserves anything like his form over the past two seasons in the long run, it would be a risk they are glad they took.

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