Much has been made of the money teams aren’t spending during this unusual off-season of inactivity, but the Milwaukee Brewers are on track to increase their payroll by more than 50% from last season. And it could go higher. Of course, it’s not difficult to bump payroll higher when you were operating with the lowest in the majors in 2017 – just shy of $60 million to start the season. That left the Brewers with financial flexibility heading into this year and they’ve taken advantage of that position to boost their talent level. The Brewers’ 2018 payroll jumped some $20 million with the blockbuster additions of outfielders Lorenzo Cain ($13 million salary this year) and Christian Yelich ($7 million). Cain signed a five-year, $80 million deal, and what made trading for Miami’s Yelich so attractive is that he's controlled for five seasons at a total of $58.25 million, including a $15 million club option for 2022. Ryan Braun continues to have the highest salary on the roster but $4 million of his $19 million for 2018 is being deferred to future years. Braun still has three years and $57 million remaining on his contract. At present, the Brewers have signed 21 players on their 40-man roster. The last five to sign are minimum-salary types, if they make the big-league club in spring training. The Brewers had a whopping 17 players on their opening day roster last season making at or just above the minimum salary of $535,000 (it goes up to $545,000 this year). Excluding $5 million in deferred salaries to Braun and Cain, and $2.5 million combined in signing bonuses to pitchers Jhoulys Chacin and Chase Anderson, the Brewers’ actual payroll is between $75 million and $80 million at present. It appears headed toward about $90 million, assuming no additional spending of note on the free-agent market. That number would still be near the bottom in major league baseball for the Brewers, who are in the smallest media market. In 2017, the average payroll was $135 million and the median was $140 million. The Dodgers led all teams with a payroll of $242 million, more than four times that of the Brewers' last season. Brewers principal owner Mark Attanasio has shown in the past he will push the payroll beyond $100 million if he thinks his team is a serious postseason contender. In 2012, after the club won the NL Central title the previous season, the Brewers opened the year with a $101.2 million payroll, and pushed it higher later.
Milwaukee Brewers payroll up 50% and it may rise more
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel | Feb 5