Rosenthal: Jackson Chourio’s contract extension and potential record deal for Josh Hader

When you hear that Brewers outfielder Jackson Chourio is set to sign an eight-year, $82 million deal, most fans would say it’s a good deal. And that’s true. But when you consider that Chourio is only 19 and has yet to play an MLB game, you have to wonder if it’s the best deal for him. The real question is how much money he’s potentially missing out on by signing this multi-million-dollar deal so early in his career.

Chourio’s contract is expected to include two club options worth $25 million each, and could potentially be worth up to $142 million with MVP escalators. If the Brewers exercise these options, Chourio will be a free agent before he turns 30, which is far earlier than the deal Bryce Harper received. Harper didn’t hit the free-agent market until his 26th birthday after four years of a $330 million deal with the Phillies.

Of course, Chourio’s decision likely comes from a desire for financial security at such a young age and the opportunity for a much larger contract in the future if he meets expectations. But what Chourio’s deal really shows is that the economic system in baseball still doesn’t discourage players from selling themselves short.

This deal does ensure that Chourio will make the Brewers’ Opening Day roster, and the chances of him getting non-tendered during his arbitration years are minimal. However, it’s clear that if he becomes a player like Acuña Jr., he will be extremely undervalued. Yet, signing such an early deal might pay off in other ways. For example, after four years of arbitration, Soto, who turned down a 15-year, $440 million extension with the Nationals in the summer of 2022, is likely to seek $500 million in free agency.

Free-agent closer Josh Hader likely wants a record contract for a reliever, potentially exceeding Edwin Díaz’s five-year, $102 million deal. Despite some decline in Hader’s performance, he still offers a formidable presence on the mound. His pitching statistics suggest that he continues to be an elite reliever, expected to command a substantial contract but perhaps less than that of Díaz.

The possibility of the Braves pulling off a trade to acquire and sign White Sox’s Dylan Cease, a Georgia native, offers an intriguing scenario. Anthopoulos has a track record of securing extensions with players from the south, and Cease could be another exciting addition to the team. While the move may be more challenging due to competition from other teams and Cease’s representation by Scott Boras, the Braves could end up with a high-performing pitcher who could be a valuable asset in the coming seasons.


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