The big news Thursday came from off the field, as the Brewers signed left fielder Ryan Braun
to a five-year, $105 million contract extension that will keep him with the club through at least 2020. The contract also includes a mutual option for 2021 worth up to $20 million with a $4 million buyout.
The Brewers already had Braun under contract through 2015 on a team-friendly eight-year, $45 million deal originally signed back in 2008, so this one came as a pretty big surprise. Braun is now guaranteed $145.5 million over the next 10 years, which means he has the chance to be a Brewer through at least his age-36 season.
Braun joins Troy Tulowitzki
as the only MLB players to be signed through the 2020 season. Both were selected in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft, with Braun going fifth overall and Tulowitzki seventh.
Since making his major league debut back in 2007, Braun ranks 10th in the majors in home runs (133), fourth in slugging percentage (.557) and ninth in OPS (.924) among players with at least 500 games played. There's obviously massive risk attached to a contract like this, but the Brewers have officially made Braun the face of their franchise.
While it's always nice to see a small market team keep one of their stars for the long-haul, it's now a virtual certainty that Prince Fielder
will be playing elsewhere next season. If it wasn't already, of course.
Here are some more news and notes from a busy Thursday around the baseball world…
- Jason Bay
made his season debut Thursday against the Astros, going 1-for-4 with a double and two runs scored. The 32-year-old outfielder began the season on the disabled list with a strained intercostal muscle near his rib cage, but last night's game was actually his first since last July 25, after he suffered a concussion in Los Angeles.
Of course, Bay's first season in Queens was a disappointment long before the concussion, as he batted just .259 with six homers and a .749 OPS over 401 plate appearances. There's every reason to believe he'll rebound this season, so I liked him as a buy-low in fantasy leagues this spring, but his days of 30 homers and 100 RBI are likely a thing of the past.
- Speaking of rebounds, have you seen Kyle Lohse
so far this season? Including his masterful complete-game, two-hit shutout victory over the Nationals on Thursday afternoon, he now has a 2.01 ERA and 22/4 K/BB ratio over his first four starts.
Lohse's four-year, $41 million extension still looks like a bust, but a lot of that has to do with a forearm injury which eventually required surgery last season. If he can come anywhere close to his output from 2008 (3.78 ERA over 200 innings), it would certainly help lessen the blow of missing Adam Wainwright
for the year. Lohse has never been a big strikeout guy (5.64 K/9 for his career), but I'd give him a try in mixed leagues until he stumbles.
- I didn't see Lohse coming, necessarily, but Scott Baker
was one of my deep sleepers in mixed leagues, even following offseason elbow surgery. He was knocked around pretty good in his first two starts, but has turned in consecutive brilliant outings, including seven innings of shutout ball against the Orioles on Thursday night. He now has a 3.24 ERA and 24/8 K/BB ratio over 25 innings.
Baker is a notorious fly ball pitcher, so home runs will happen, but he's a lot less scary calling Target Field home. The 29-year-old right-hander had a 3.86 ERA over 15 starts there last season. His secondary numbers are sneaky good (7.12 K/9, 2.12 BB/9), so I'd pick him up where available.National League Quick Hits: Logan Morrison
was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a left foot strain and is expected to miss 2-4 weeks … David Wright
snapped a career-worst 0-for-20 slump with a home run and a two-run double in a win over the Astros on Thursday … Matt Kemp
slugged a walk-off two-run homer to give the Dodgers a 5-3 win over the Braves in 12 innings Thursday … Zack Greinke
(rib) will make his next minor league rehab start Sunday with Triple-A Nashville … Ryan Zimmerman
(abdominal strain) is unlikely to return from the disabled list when eligible next week … In his first start since his recent shoplifting arrest, Mike Leake
allowed three runs over seven innings in a win over the Diamondbacks on Thursday … Angel Pagan
left Thursday's game with a pulled side muscle and is expected to miss a few days … Mike Stanton
and Pedro Alvarez
both launched their first homers of the season Thursday … Roy Oswalt
allowed just one hit over six shutout innings in a win over the Padres on Thursday night … Craig Kimbrel
blew his first save Thursday against the Dodgers … Johnny Cueto
(triceps) allowed eight runs over 1 2/3 innings on Thursday in a minor league rehab start with Triple-A Louisville … Chase Utley
(knee) ran 10 sprints Thursday, but there's still no timetable for his return … Chris Capuano
tossed seven innings of one-run ball in a win over the Astros on Thursday … Scott Cousins
belted his first major league home run -- a grand slam -- in Thursday's win over the Pirates and should see time in left field with Logan Morrison
(foot) on the disabled list … Chris Young
(biceps) threw a simulated game Thursday and is expected to be activated from the disabled list next Tuesday … The Brewers placed Nyjer Morgan
on the 15-day disabled list with a deep thigh bruise … Bobby Parnell
will begin taking aspirin to treat a local blood clot in his right middle finger …Chien-Ming Wang
(shoulder) threw two innings Wednesday in an extended spring training game, but there's still no timetable for a rehab assignment … Ronny Paulino
(anemia) went 0-for-4 and committed two throwing errors in a rehab game with Triple-A Buffalo on Thursday and is expected to be activated from the disabled list next Tuesday … Clint Barmes
(hand) will begin a minor league rehab assignment Sunday with Triple-A Oklahoma City … Todd Coffey
(calf) threw another bullpen session Thursday without any issues and is expected to return from the disabled list next week …American League Quick Hits:
Jays' left-hander Brett Cecil
was sent to the minors Thursday amid concerns about diminished velocity and a 6.86 ERA over his first four starts … Kevin Youkilis
left Thursday's game against the Angels after fouling a ball off his shin and will be reevaluated Friday … Grady Sizemore
went 3-for-5 with an RBI single in Thursday's loss to the Royals and is batting .421 (8-for-19) since returning from the disabled list … Adrian Gonzalez
went 2-for-5 with a go-ahead RBI double in Thursday's extra-inning win over the Angels … Chris Perez
blew his first save of the season Thursday against the Royals … Evan Longoria
hit off a tee Thursday for the first time since straining his left oblique and remains on track for a return in early May … Brandon Morrow
(forearm) was activated from the disabled list and will make his season debut Saturday afternoon against the Rays … Michael Cuddyer
and Jim Thome
went deep in Thursday's win over the Orioles … Felix Hernandez
struck out eight over 7 2/3 shutout innings Thursday in a win over the Athletics … Johnny Damon
(finger) returned to the Rays' starting lineup Thursday … Aaron Hill
(hamstring) underwent an MRI on Wednesday, which came back inconclusive … Indians manager Manny Acta plans to keep the struggling Carlos Santana
in the cleanup spot … Josh Beckett
allowed two runs over eight innings Thursday against the Angels, but was handed a no-decision … Justin Morneau
(flu) missed his fifth straight game Thursday … Bartolo Colon
could remain in the starting rotation after Phil Hughes
(arm) returns from the disabled list … Matt Capps
converted his third consecutive save chance Thursday in a win over the Orioles … Brandon McCarthy
tossed eight innings of one-run ball Thursday in a tough-luck loss to the Mariners … Daric Barton
was scratched from Thursday's lineup due to illness … Delmon Young
has requested an MRI on his sore ribs … Adam Kennedy
, who is filling in for Justin Smoak
at first base, has homered in back-to-back games for the first time since 2007 … Joel Pineiro
(shoulder) will make a minor league rehab start Sunday with Single-A Inland Empire … J.P. Howell
(shoulder) will begin his rehab assignment Friday in extended spring training … Michael Wuertz
(hamstring) gave up three runs in an inning Wednesday in a minor league rehab appearance with Triple-A Sacramento … Brandon Wood
, who was recently designated for assignment by the Angels, is not expected to clear waivers … The Blue Jays accepted infielder Brad Emaus
back from the Mets …