Brewers top prospect Jackson Chourio nearing record-setting contract extension, sources say

Momentum is building toward a record-setting contract extension between the Milwaukee Brewers and top prospect Jackson Chourio that is progressing near the finish line.

Contract negotiations, sources told the Journal Sentinel, began in earnest late in the minor-league regular season, when members of the Brewers front office broached the topic with Chourio.

Talks did not reach the point of an agreement before the end of the season, which kept Chourio from being included in the team’s late-season push at the big-league level, but significant progress was made.

Industry personnel, as recently as Tuesday night, were expressing optimism that a deal was nearing completion, though there was still more ground that needed to be covered, according to league sources.

The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal first reported Tuesday that the two sides were discussing a deal. The New York Post is reporting Thursday morning a deal is expected to be done today.

On Wednesday, Brewers general manager Matt Arnold declined comment.

Chourio has played only six games above the Class AA level but is nearing an agreement that would make him the highest-paid player ever without major-league experience.

Milwaukee Brewers prospect Jackson Chourio is pictured during minor league workouts at American Family Fields of Phoenix on March 6, 2023.
Milwaukee Brewers prospect Jackson Chourio is pictured during minor league workouts at American Family Fields of Phoenix on March 6, 2023.

Contract extension negotiations can be a tricky process, particularly involving young players with little to no major-league experience.

Players receive immense financial security on the front end, but also risk sacrificing potential earnings down the road if they reach their potential. Teams also assume risk by offering guaranteed future money, and often seek to “buy out” a player’s first couple free-agent seasons without having to pay what may be an exorbitant market rate down the road.

Because of the give and take between the sides, a deal in the ballpark of eight years and between $80 million and $90 million is likely, with the potential for options and incentives that could elevate the dollar amount. The sides were roughly $10 million apart in guaranteed money following discussions late Tuesday.

Those club options, which could be an important part of the negotiations from the Brewers’ side, can be one of the largest hurdles to clear in pre-arbitration extension talks. The player’s side may ask for more guaranteed money up front in exchange for the club options on the back end, or simply try to negotiate for fewer options as to reach free agency sooner.

These are the sorts of items the two sides still need to iron out.

The Brewers have been proactive in recent years in trying to lock up younger players they believe can be future foundation pieces.

Right-hander Freddy Peralta's five-year, $15.5 million extension he signed in February of 2020 takes him through the end of 2024 with Milwaukee holding very affordable $8 million team options for both 2025 and 2026.

Peralta can also earn additional money through bonuses for various awards including finishing first through fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting and all-star appearances.

Left-hander Aaron Ashby signed a five-year, $20.5 million extension in July of 2022 that takes him through the 2027 season with the Brewers holding a $9 million team option for 2028 ($1 million buyout) and a $13 million team option for 2029.

Both option years also include multiple incentives.

Chourio, who signed as an amateur out of Venezuela in 2021 and received a $1.8 million signing bonus, has quickly ascended through the ranks in the Brewers system to become one of the two highest-regarded prospects in baseball, along with Baltimore’s Jackson Holliday.

He has taken home the Brewers' minor-league player of the year award each of the last two seasons and, overall, has hit .286/.347/.490 across the minor leagues.

Chourio does not turn 20 until March 11. And, if he signs the extension, he would likely be a part of the Brewers' opening-day roster at the close of camp because his contract would be guaranteed and have no tie-ins to service time.

Only five players ever have signed long-term contracts before their MLB debuts. Chicago White Sox outfielder Luis Robert’s six-year, $50 million deal is currently the record for most money given to a player with no MLB experience.

The Brewers have held extension discussions with other top prospects in their system in the last year prior to debuting in the majors but never got to the finish line on such an agreement.

Chourio, if in the majors, would join a crowded outfield picture that includes Christian Yelich and youngsters Sal Frelick, Garrett Mitchell and Joey Wiemer, along with Tyrone Taylor and Blake Perkins.

That depth could open up a variety of possibilities for the Brewers front office to potentially make a move for pitching or corner infield help if the right deal presents itself.

This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Jackson Chourio nearing record-setting contract extension with Brewers