The Milwaukee Brewers were busy even on their off day on Thursday. They became the latest team to sign a young player to a long-term deal, buying out a couple free agency-eligible seasons when they signed Yovani Gallardo to a five-year, $30.1 million deal.
The contract is the richest ever for a pitcher with two-plus years of Major League service time. Gallardo passes Jon Lester, who got a $30 million contract from the Boston Red Sox last year.
Gallardo will receive a slight increase for his 2010 salary as well as a $1.25 million signing bonus that will be paid out in three installments over the year.
The 24-year-old righty will see his pay increase to $3.25 million next season, $5.5 million in 2012, $7.75 million in 2013, and $11.25 million in 2014. There is a $13 million option for 2015 with a $600,000 buyout.
The sixth-year option can come under Gallardo's control if he reaches certain performance-based incentives based on a point system. He needs to reach six points over the first five years of the deal. He'll get five points if he wins a Cy Young Award, three points for finishing second, and one point for finishing third.
Gallardo also received a full no-trade clause in the contract for the first three years of the deal. After that time, he can add 10 teams to a limited no-trade clause.
All-in-all, this was a great deal for both sides. Gallardo now has the financial security of a contract for the next five years, and the Brewers have cost certainty with one of the best young pitchers in the game.
Gallardo received the contract despite never making more than 30 starts in a season.
After missing most of 2008 due to a knee injury, he rebounded last year to become the ace of the Brewers pitching staff. He finished with a record of 13-12, with a 3.73 ERA in 30 starts and 185 2/3 innings. He struck out 204 batters while walking only 94.
Along with Randy Wolf, Gallardo will anchor the starting staff for the next couple of seasons. The Brewers will now need to only fill out the bottom end of their rotation going forward.
With Gallardo now signed long-term, focus for fans and the organization will shift to trying to sign Prince Fielder to a long-term deal. Fielder won't sign quite as easily as Gallardo did.
Although signing Fielder may be the priority, the fan base and organization shouldn't forget about other key pieces of a potential championship puzzle.
Rickie Weeks is again off to a hot start in 2010. The difference between Weeks and his teammates is his health. He needs to show he can remain healthy for a full season before the team commits a new deal to him.
Health will also be a key for Gallardo. He rebounded from his own injury last year, but Brewer fans still have thoughts of Ben Sheets and his injury history in their memories.
However, Sheets is the old face of pitching in Milwaukee. With this new deal, Yovani Gallardo is now the present and future of great pitching in a Brewers uniform.
To read more by Jesse Motiff, click here.