A Look at the Contracts of the Four Milwaukee Brewers who Avoided Salary Arbitration

By Michael Terrill
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Milwaukee Brewers were able to come to terms with four players recently in which all four major leaguers were able to avoid salary arbitration. Is each specific player worth the money he will receive during the 2013 MLB season?

Closer John Axford, right-handed starter Marco Estrada, reliever Burke Badenhop and center fielder Carlos Gomez all came to an agreement with the Brewers without the need to swap figures with the ball club. This is the first time in recent memory that no arbitration-eligible player had to exchange figures with the organization.

Axford agreed to a $5 million deal plus incentives that I am assuming will come into play depending on how many games he saves in 2013. Many people may question why Axford is getting paid so much money this season after his inconsistent performance last year. Even though the 29-year old recorded 35 saves in 2012, he also blew nine of them, which was the difference between Milwaukee playing in October and going home instead.

However, Axford did have a remarkable 2011 season in which he recorded a franchise-best 46 saves and posted a 1.95 earned run average, 1.14 WHIP, 86 strikeouts and 2.3 wins above replacement in 73 2/3 innings. As many baseball executives would say, contracts are not always depicted on what the player did the previous year, but what they have been able to accomplish over the past several seasons.

“It’s career performance that determines the salary as well as special accomplishments and team performance,” said club negotiator Teddy Werner. “It’s not just based on the 2012 season.”

“We’re talking about a guy who was an integral part in us getting to the championship series in 2011. You look at the whole package. There’s a human element as well. There’s no right number.”

Axford is no doubt excited about his pay raise, as it is quite larger than the $525,000 he made last year. Hopefully, this big contract will motivate him to raise his level of play this season similar to what he did during Milwaukee’s magical run in 2011.

Estrada will receive $1.955 million this year, which is good for him considering he made $486,000 last season. The 29-year-old deserves the pay bump, as 2012 was the best statistical season of his career. Estrada posted career-highs in ERA (3.64), wins (5), strikeouts (143), innings pitched (138 1/3), starts (23), WAR (1.3) and strikeouts to walk ratio (4.93) which was one of the best in all of baseball. Of course, a lot of this was possible due to him being thrown into the starting rotation after Chris Narveson went down with an injury.

Badenhop received a $500,000 pay raise in his $1.55 million contract for this season after making $1.05 million with the Tampa Bay Rays last year. He posted a career-best 3.03 ERA, 42 strikeouts and five holds in 66 appearances. The 29-year old will be a critical member of a bullpen that has been rebuilt from the ground up. There was only one reason Milwaukee did not clinch a second consecutive postseason berth in 2012, and that was because of the poor play of the relievers. Badenhop and the other new additions are hoping to change all of that this year.

Gomez got the second largest pay raise of the four players mentioned in this article. He will receive a $4.3 million contract this season after making $1.962 million last year. Gomez posted career-highs across the board in 2012 and his new high-level of play has given the Brewers confidence to make him the everyday center fielder. The 27-year old had career bests in home runs (19), stolen bases (37), batting average (.260), on-base percentage (.305), slugging percentage (.463), OPS (.768) and WAR (2.3).

Hopefully, none of these players will let their new contracts go to their head. They should instead be ready to take their game to the next level and help Milwaukee reach their ultimate goal in 2013.

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