Opinion: Brewers Nailed it with Yelich Extension

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Justin Downs
Justin is an MLB contributor for the Infinity Sports Network since February 2020. He also contributes to the affiliated Crush City Station (Houston Astros blog) and is an athletics reporter for the East Tennessean newspaper.

Last week, The Milwaukee Brewers tacked on a seven-year extension to prized right fielder Christian Yelich, bringing the Brewers’ total fee to $215 million over the next nine years.

That price tag is truly “small potatoes” compared to the kind of productivity they are going to continue to get out of one of baseball’s elite.

In a world consisting of $430 million dollar Mike Trout extensions and $325 million dollar Giancarlo Stanton signings, Milwaukee general manager and president of baseball operations David Stearns, who originally initiated the trade for Yelich from the Miami Marlins, is looking like a young genius after capturing Yelich at a supreme discount.

In what universe is $215 million dollars a discount? Why, in the Major League Baseball universe, of course! A universe with no true salary cap, one with names like Harper, Machado, and Stanton comfortably standing at or above $300 million.

Yet, some of these individuals signed under monster contracts just aren’t producing as expected, or, in some cases, absolutely cannot remain healthy and in the lineup on a regular basis (you know who I mean).

Historically speaking, 28-year-old Christian Yelich does not set off any red flags that some of his large-contract counterparts may possess. A true model of consistency, Yelich is a .301 lifetime hitter, dating back to his days attempting to carry the miserable Miami franchise, beginning in 2013. Since being traded to the Brewers in January 2018, Yelich has unleashed a new gear, knocking 80 of his 139 lifetime home runs in the past two seasons alone. 

Yelich has captured two back-to-back National League MVP awards in 2018 and 2019, and despite last year’s late season exit with foul ball fracturing his kneecap, his 860 games played over his last six years of MLB service suggest he is, and will continue to, put his durability on display.

As if his on-the-field production wasn’t enough, Yelich will continue to pay for himself, in the form of attendance numbers. The Brew crew have found themselves an individual player that will absolutely keep the butts in the seats at Miller Park. As a matter of fact, since Yelich joined the Milwaukee squad in 2018, Miller Park attendance numbers have skyrocketed to just above averaging 36,000 fans per game last year (as reported by Baseball Almanac). That’s healthily above the average National League ballpark, and good enough for ranking 8th in the entire MLB. 

Despite the Brewers being largely anticipated to take a step backwards in 2020, locking up role-model type right fielder Yelich through 2028 is a brilliant step in the right direction for the franchise, and the humble city of Milwaukee. Expect nothing less than the brilliant consistency and triple crown-esque numbers that we have come to expect from Yelich for years to come.

 

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