The Brewers have announced a five-year contract extension with left-hander Aaron Ashbyrunning through the 2027 and including club options for 2028 and 2029. Ashby will earn $20.5MM over the five guaranteed years of his extension, as per Joel Sherman of The New York Post (Twitter link). He can more than double that total if the contract is maxed out, as Sherman notes that another $25.5MM is available if both options are exercised and Ashby hits all his escalators. Ashby is represented by Turner-Gary Sports.
The extension only cements Ashby’s place as an important piece of the Brewers’ future, and it also gives the 24-year-old some guaranteed money and security early in his career. Ashby (the nephew of former big leaguer Andy Ashby) was a fourth-round pick in the 2018 draft, and he moved quickly through the minors, winning the Brewers’ minor league Pitcher Of The Year honors in 2019 and then making his MLB debut in 2021.
Pitching as both a starter and reliever over his two seasons in the Show, Ashby has a 4.56 ERA, 58% grounder rate, 27.5% strikeout rate, and 9.9% walk rate. The unimpressive walk total is really the only blemish on Ashby’s resume, as other advanced metrics (including a career 3.40 SIERA and only a .291 xwOBA this season) indicate that his ERA is a bit misleading. A .339 BABIP this year, for instance, weighs heavy on a groundball-heavy pitcher like Ashby.
Still, there is obviously a lot for the Brewers to like with his performance to date, and Ashby has moved from swingman to full-fledged starter in the wake of injuries in Milwaukee’s rotation. Freddy Peralta and Adrian Houser are still on the injured list, though Peralta is set to begin a rehab assignment this weekend and Houser is expected back sometime in August.
With Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff both getting more expensive in their arbitration years and both scheduled for free agency after the 2024 season, it remains to be seen how the Brewers will address their rotation over the long term. Eric Lauer will also be a free agent that same winter, and Lauer is raising his own price tag with a strong performance in 2022. In locking up Ashby and Peralta to extensions, president of baseball operations David Stearns has already planted some cornerstones for a possible future without any of their other three starters, and the franchise’s proven ability to find and develop pitching continues to be a key factor in the Brewers’ ability to compete.
Peralta’s extension is an obvious comp for Ashby’s deal. Signed back in February 2020, Peralta (with just over a year of MLB service time) inked a deal also consisting of five guaranteed years and two club option years, except worth $15.5MM in guaranteed money and $14.5MM more over the option seasons. At the time, Peralta was also a swingman who had yet to fully establish himself as a rotation fixture, and Ashby’s larger guarantee could reflect his better big league results and perhaps simply two-plus years of salary inflation.