Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel tweets that the Milwaukee Brewers have signed starting pitcher Yovani Gallardo to a five year contract that includes an option year. The contract commences immediately and buys out this season, the last of Gallardo's pre-arbitration years, all three years of salary arbitration eligibility and the first year he would have been eligible for salary arbitration. The deal is worth a guaranteed $30.1 million.
Haudricourt posted the details of the deal on his blog at the JS-Online. The contract is a very favorable deal for Milwaukee. Gallardo will get $500,000 this season, an increase of $50,000 from the $450,000 at which he was renewed on March 4th of this year. Gallardo also gets a $1.25 million signing bonus. In 2011 his salary will be $3.25 million. For 2012, he'll get $5.5 million. That goes up to $7.75 million in 2013. The final guaranteed year, 2014, is worth $11.25 million. The club option for 2015 would pay Gallardo $13 million, but can be bought out by the club for $600,000.
Striking now is a wise decision by Brewers GM Doug Melvin. With the built in salary escalators of the arbitration process, Gallardo could have made significantly more money going year to year with the club. Players entering salary arbitration for the first time often have steep raises. Had Gallardo finished 2010 with numbers consistent he could have easily gotten upwards of $4 million from an arbiter.
Prior to this season, three starting pitchers exchanged figures with their clubs in their first season of salary arbitration eligibility. Matt Garza was a super 2 player, Scott Feldman and Joe Saunders had achieved three years of service time. Feldman, who was not exclusively a starter in either 2008 or 2009 agreed on a contract that gave him a 458% raise. Garza and Saunders received 674% and 679% raises respectively. Gallardo is regarded as a superior pitcher to both Saunders and Garza and could have expected Saunders' $3.7 million a likely floor.
Based on the outcomes of second year arbitration players Edwin Jackson and Wandy Rodriguez, a fair estimate of his 2012 salary would fall between $6.5 and $8 million. Had the Brewers waited until the end of the season, the guaranteed money in the deal would have likely been between $5 and $10 million higher. But going year to year would have subjected Gallardo to the risk of injury. And clearly that concern weighed on this decision thanks to knee surgery prior to spring training in 2008 and an torn ACL ten weeks later that cost him all but four starts that season.
Gallardo, 24, was selected by the Brewers in the second round of the 2004 First-Year Player Draft. He owns a career record of 22-18 with a 3.58 ERA. He went 13-12 with a 3.73 ERA in 30 starts last season, which marked his first full season in the Major Leagues. Gallardo was a mid-season call-up in 2007 and made 17 starts for Milwaukee, with a 9-5 record and a 3.67 ERA.
Gallardo, who started Opening Day for the club, was named 2009 Brewers Most Valuable Pitcher leading the team with 17 quality starts and holding opponents to a .219 batting average, good for third in the National League. His 204 strikeouts ranked fifth in the National League last season and fifth on the all-time franchise list for a single season.
Also a threat at the plate, Gallardo is already the franchise leader for pitchers with four career home runs, including the only homer ever hit by a pitcher off future Hall of Famer Randy Johnson (April 8, 2009 at San Francisco).
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