Braun signs $105-million extension
Braun signed a $105-million, five-year contract extension on Thursday that adds to a seven-year deal he signed in May 2008, meaning the Brewers are now committed to pay the young slugger $145.5 million through 2020.
“From here on out the only thing that really matters is winning,” Braun said. “I’m proud of saying that I’ve been a part of a group of guys here who have come in here and tried to kind of change the culture and get back to having the perception of being a winning organization, when guys like Robin Yount played here, Gorman Thomas, Paul Molitor, Jim Gantner, when all those guys were here, it was a special place to play.”
Yount played all 20 of his seasons for the Brewers, winning two MVP awards. The 27-year-old Braun said he expects to spend his entire career in Milwaukee, too, after getting picked by the Brewers in the first round of the 2005 amateur draft.
“There really aren’t many guys that’ve spent their entire careers with one team,” he said.
Braun has been picked to start each of the last three All-Star Games and is one of five players in history to hit at least 125 homers and post a .300 batting average over the first four seasons of his career, joining Joe DiMaggio, Chuck Klein, Albert Pujols and Ted Williams.
Braun’s .308 career batting average is currently the franchise’s best mark.
“Very rarely does it happen where a player understands his franchise and where it’s at and where he wants to be in the future,” general manager Doug Melvin said. “A lot of times we have a tendency just to look at today or tomorrow, but he had the vision of an organization that he wanted to be with and from that standpoint, it’s a very exciting day for us.”
Braun gets a $10 million signing bonus and will make salaries of $19 million in 2016-18, $18 million in 2019, $16 million in 2020. The mutual option is worth up to $20 million with a $4 million buyout.
Braun’s newest deal includes a no-trade provision, and he will defer some of his salary.
“It was solely a function of making sure that we can always build a competitive team around Ryan. Period. End of story,” Brewers owner Mark Attanasio said. “And by working with us on this, I believe we can.”
Braun signed a $45 million, seven-year extension in 2008 after winning the NL Rookie of the Year in 2007, which was the largest contract ever by a player with less than one year of service time. That deal has largely been considered as “team friendly” in an era of blockbuster deals, something that still doesn’t concern Braun.
“If I went back in time, I would sign that contract every time,” Braun said. “It provided financial security and ultimately I’m extremely happy with that contract, just like I am with the one that we just agreed to today.”
Braun is hitting .359 with four homers so far this season, and has reached safely in all 18 games. Last year, he earned his third straight Silver Slugger Award with a .304 batting average, 25 homers and 103 RBIs.
“I truly believe I can get much better as a player,” Braun said. “These first 18 games are probably the best baseball I’ve played in my career and I really believe that’s a sign of things to come.”
Milwaukee has all of its starters and core group outside Prince Fielder signed through 2012, and three other key players—Rickie Weeks, Yovani Gallardo and Corey Hart—locked up for several more years.
Fielder, a Scott Boras client, is expected to head to free agency at the end of the season.
“I know Prince enjoys it here. That’s a fact that’s undisputed,” Braun said. “We’ve never had more fun playing together than we have since the beginning of spring training. We’re really just enjoying baseball right now. I know this is a place he would love to stay.”
Melvin said that he understands the ongoing talk about Fielder, but everyone remains focused on returning to the postseason since their NL wild card run three years ago, one of the reasons he traded to get 2009 AL Cy Young winner Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum.
“Our goal is to drop all that confetti off the top of the dome like we did in 2008,” Melvin said.
NOTES: Attanasio said he has no interest in the Dodgers if they were to come up for sale. … Greinke is scheduled to make a second rehab start on Sunday at Triple-A Nashville. … The Brewers reinstated RHP LaTroy Hawkins (shoulder) from the 15-day DL. … C George Kottaras was assigned outright and RHP Mike McClendon was optioned to Triple-A Nashville.