Ryan Braun was already under contract with the Milwaukee Brewers through 2015. So what's five more years between friends? According to a report on Thursday, Braun and the Brewers have agreed on a contract extension through 2020 that includes a 2021 mutual option.
Ken Rosenthal puts the contract's value at $105 million over those five years, or $21 million each. An average annual salary of $21 million will mean less in 2016 and 2020 than it does now, but this is nevertheless an enormous investment and commitment, and reminiscent of the contract the Colorado Rockies gave to Troy Tulowitzki last November. Tulowitzki and Braun are now the only two players in baseball under contract through the end of the decade.
It would seem that the Braun contract is an indication that free-agent-to-be Prince Fielder is likely to walk, but if you have to pick a face of the franchise, there are worse options than Braun, who owns a career .924 OPS and is still only 27 years old. He's gotten off to a blazing start in 2011, slugging .641 with more walks than strikeouts, and seems destined to end up with a collection of shiny hardware.
Of course, one has to question the wisdom of guaranteeing a player like Braun $105 million over a five-year period, the beginning of which is still five years away. There's absolutely no way that the Brewers can have any idea what Braun is going to look like as a player that far down the road. But there's no questioning the guy can hit the crap out of the ball now, and that's apparently enough for the Brewers.