Brewers, top prospect talking record-setting extension (report)

November 28th, 2023

MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers and top prospect Jackson Chourio have had talks about a record-setting contract extension, according to a report from The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. The club has not confirmed the report.

Brewers GM Matt Arnold declined to comment on Tuesday’s report, but it’s well known how much he likes Chourio, 19, who is baseball’s No. 2 overall prospect and the highest-ranked Brewers prospect ever, having made a meteoric rise since signing for $1.9 million out of Maracaibo, Venezuela, in 2021.

Chourio has been Milwaukee’s Minor League Player of the Year each of the past two seasons. He shared the 2023 honor with infielder Tyler Black after reaching Triple-A Nashville during the final week of the Minor League season.

According to Rosenthal’s report, the parameters being discussed by the Brewers and Chourio’s representatives at the Beverly Hills Sports Council would set a record for a player already under club control who has yet to play in the Major Leagues. To date, there have been only five such signings:

  • Astros 1B Jon Singleton: Five years, $10 million (2014)
  • Phillies IF Scott Kingery: Six years, $24 million (2018)
  • White Sox OF Eloy Jiménez: Six years, $43 million (2019)
  • Mariners 1B Evan White: Six years, $24 million (2019)
  • White Sox OF Luis Robert Jr.: Six years, $50 million (2020)

News of the ongoing talks between Chourio’s camp and the Brewers comes one week before baseball’s annual Winter Meetings, a hotspot for signings and trades. A Chourio extension could be significant in clearing a path to either an early callup once Chourio logs additional Triple-A time, or a jump directly to Milwaukee’s Opening Day roster, which is currently flush with outfielders from the experienced Christian Yelich and Tyrone Taylor to prospects Garrett Mitchell, Sal Frelick and Joey Wiemer. The designated hitter opens at-bats, but only to a point.

If the Brewers go young to start the year -- Black is under consideration for third base or first base, both of which are wide open at the moment -- then it could also impact the club’s plans for some of their players nearing free agency. Ace right-hander Corbin Burnes and shortstop Willy Adames each have only one year of club control remaining, for example. Closer Devin Williams has two years left.

Chourio wouldn’t be the first prospect to ink a long-term extension with the Brewers, though he would be the first to do so before setting foot in the Majors. In July 2022, the Brewers and left-hander Aaron Ashby agreed to a five-year, $20.5 million contract when Ashby had logged just 100 2/3 Major League innings. Those terms were based on the five-year, $15.5 million deal between the Brewers and right-hander Freddy Peralta in February 2020, when Peralta had a little more than one year of Major League service time.

And those agreements followed the first of Ryan Braun’s two extensions with the Brewers. The first, an eight-year, $45 million pact in 2008, came less than a year after his Major League debut, when Braun was the reigning NL Rookie of the Year Award winner.

The Brewers have similarly high hopes for Chourio, a five-tool talent who has posted an .837 OPS across three Minor League seasons, mostly as the youngest player in his league. Chourio hit a career-high 22 home runs in a 2023 season spent mostly at Double-A Biloxi, then kept hitting in the Venezuelan Winter League, where he slashed .379/.453/.530 in 17 games before calling it a season. He doesn’t turn 20 until March 11.