Brewers top prospect Chourio inks record-setting deal

December 4th, 2023

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Brewers top prospect Jackson Chourio, who is MLB Pipeline’s No. 2 overall prospect, was all smiles while sitting courtside at the Milwaukee Bucks’ victory on Saturday night at Fiserv Forum -- and he had plenty of reasons to smile.

Chourio on Monday signed an eight-year contract with club options for 2032 and '33. Terms of the deal were not announced, but a source told that it guarantees $82 million, setting an industry record for a player with no Major League experience. Chourio was added to the 40-man roster and will wear No. 11.

"Jackson has proven to be one of the elite young prospects in all of baseball," said general manager Matt Arnold. "We are extremely excited to make this unprecedented commitment to a player we believe to be a generational talent who has all the tools to be the face of our franchise. We are thrilled to have Jackson in a Brewers uniform for many years to come."

Said Chourio: “This decision was to secure my future. Now I can play easy and play without that pressure, and bring the best.”

Chourio’s club options for 2032 and '33 are at $25 million apiece, that -- with escalators and incentives -- could push the total value to $142.5 million over the full 10 years, according to a source, if he develops into the MVP-caliber player the club believes he can be. MLB Network insider Jon Heyman first reported the $82 million guarantee, which is the richest deal signed by a player with zero years of MLB service time, eclipsing Luis Robert Jr.’s $50 million contract with the White Sox. The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal (subscription required) was the first to report last week that the Brewers were discussing a contract with Chourio.

Chourio’s agent, Cesar Suarez of the Beverly Hills Sports Council, had been talking to the Brewers about the concept of a long-term deal since last season’s All-Star break, as Chourio continued his rapid ascent through Milwaukee’s farm system with a productive campaign at Double-A Biloxi. By the time he touched Triple-A Nashville at season’s end, it was clear the discussion would continue into the offseason.

For both sides, there is risk and reward. From Chourio’s perspective, he gets financial security for life in exchange for potentially leaving some earnings on the table compared to going year-to-year. From the Brewers’ perspective, the club gets as many as four additional years of contractual control -- depending on when Chourio makes his Major League debut, and whether the options are exercised -- of a five-tool player.

But the risk from the club’s point of view is evident from the five other players who inked long-term contracts before spending a single day in the Major Leagues:

  • 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)

Chourio isn't the first prospect to ink a long-term extension with the Brewers, though he is 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.

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.

"We certainly feel it's a good problem to have," Arnold said. "We have a lot of talented outfielders, and Jackson is certainly one of those. But we churned through a lot of our depth. We had multiple injuries on the same day last year. So things like that tend to work themselves out."

If the Brewers go young to start the year -- infielder Tyler 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.

The Brewers have 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.

A native of Maracaibo, Venezuela, Chourio has quickly ascended Milwaukee’s system since he signed with the team as an amateur free agent in 2021. He was originally a shortstop but has been a full-time outfielder since 2022.

Chourio possesses a combination of impressive tools, including three (70-grade speed, 60-grade power and 60-grade fielding) that grade out at 60 or better on the 20-80 scouting scale, according to MLB Pipeline.

"This is a blessing for me," Chourio said. "This is not something you see every day. I know this is a great opportunity, and I just want to take advantage of it and enjoy every day."