Brewers agree to terms with 6 arbitration-eligible players

January 12th, 2024

MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers settled with ace starter Corbin Burnes and shortstop Willy Adames before striking a deal with closer late on Thursday, meaning they won’t have to go into the hearing room in 2024.

Teams had until Thursday to reach agreements with their arbitration-eligible players before formally exchanging figures at 7 p.m. CT, but Williams was the only Brewers player still unsigned by the deadline. Williams filed for $7.3 million and the Brewers countered at $6.65 million before the sides settled on a deal that guarantees $7.25 million and includes a club option for 2025 that, if exercised, would buy out Williams’ final arbitration season and carry him to free agency.

Here’s a rundown of Thursday’s agreements:

Done deals:

RHP Corbin Burnes (third year of arbitration, $15,637,500 million): Burnes finished seventh in NL Cy Young Award balloting after going 10-8 with a 3.39 ERA and an NL-best 1.069 WHIP in his third consecutive season of 200-plus strikeouts. Barring a contract extension, the Scott Boras client will be a free agent following the 2024 World Series.

RHP Devin Williams (second year of arbitration, $7 million, plus a $10.5 million salary for 2025 with $1 million in escalators and a $250,000 buyout): Williams won the Trevor Hoffman NL Reliever of the Year Award for the second time in his career after converting 36 saves with a 1.53 ERA in his first full season as Milwaukee’s closer. Among all relievers, he led the league in opponents’ batting average (.129). Among National League relievers, he ranked second in hits per nine innings (3.99) and strikeouts per nine innings (13.35), tied for second in WHIP (0.92) and third in ERA. If the club option is exercised, the deal would carry Williams to free agency about a month after his 31st birthday.

SS Willy Adames (third year of arbitration, $12.25 million): Adames’ offensive production slipped in 2023 to a career-low .717 OPS and 95 OPS+, but he was the Brewers’ only 20-homer hitter (he finished with 24 home runs) and led the team with 80 RBIs. He also played terrific defense; among shortstops, Adames was tied for second in Statcast’s outs above average and tied for fourth in Statcast’s fielding run value. Like Burnes, Adames is poised to reach free agency at the end of the ‘24 season.

RHP Joel Payamps (first year of arbitration, $1.65 million): Payamps might have been overlooked when the Brewers, Braves and A’s came together for an eight-player trade in December 2022, a deal centered around catchers William Contreras and Sean Murphy. But Payamps proved a critical “get” for the Brewers after he made the Opening Day roster and ascended to a setup role in front of Williams, posting a 2.55 ERA in 69 games. Payamps’ 28 holds were tied for the third-most in the National League.

1B Jake Bauers (first year of arbitration, $1.35 million): Bauers was likely to be nontendered by the Yankees, so they traded him on Nov. 17 to a Brewers team in need of first-base options and left-handed power. The Brewers see something in Bauers’ power potential after he hit 23 home runs in 108 games between Triple-A and the Majors in 2023, the most he’d ever hit in a professional season.

RHP Bryse Wilson (first year of arbitration, $1.000025 million): Wilson, acquired last winter in a cash deal with the Pirates, was named the Brewers’ Unsung Hero Award winner after his best season in the big leagues. Wilson filled every bullpen role imaginable, from long man to fill-in closer, and finished with a 2.58 ERA in 76 2/3 innings over 53 games.

Previously signed:

LHP Hoby Milner (second year of arbitration, $2.05 million): After being cut loose by both the Phillies and Rays in 2020, Milner has thrived in Milwaukee’s bullpen, leading to a career year in 2023 with a 1.82 ERA in a team-leading 73 appearances. His ERA+ of 238 was 10th-best among the 357 pitchers who worked at least 50 innings last season. Milner and the Brewers reached an agreement on Wednesday.

RHP Taylor Clarke (second year of arbitration, $1.25 million): When the Brewers picked up Clarke in a Dec. 14 trade with the Royals, he’d already settled on a contract to avoid arbitration. He began his big league career as a starter with the D-backs, but over the past three seasons, he’s made all but two of his 148 appearances in relief. Notably, he has an option remaining.