MILWAUKEE (AP) — The Milwaukee Brewers have gotten used to calling Yovani Gallardo their ace. Now he’s got a contract that keeps him in the fold with plenty of time to prove it.
Gallardo agreed Thursday to a $30.1 million, five-year deal that could be worth $42.5 million over six seasons. The agreement covers the right-hander’s arbitration-eligible years and the first season after he would have become a free agent.
“It hasn’t really settled into me yet because I’m just that type of guy, I kind of try not to show too much emotion,” the 24-year-old Gallardo said. “But it’s great.”
Gallardo was Milwaukee’s opening day starter on Monday and took the loss. But in many ways, he’s long been the leader of the pitching staff by the example he sets.
“Having what we consider an ace of a staff, a No. 1 guy, tied up, it’s going to make the offseason (easier),” general manager Doug Melvin said. “In the offseason, you’re always trying to fill holes. With good health, this is one hole we don’t have to worry about for a few years.”
Gallardo receives a $1.25 million signing bonus: $500,000 payable when the contract is approved by Major League Baseball, $500,000 on July 15 and $250,000 on Nov. 15. He gets salaries of $500,000 this year, $3.25 million next season, $5.5 million in 2012, $7.75 million in 2013 and $11.25 million in 2014. Milwaukee holds a $13 million option for 2015 with a $600,000 buyout.
Gallardo could void the option if he accumulates six points under a system in which he earns five points for winning a Cy Young Award, three points for finishing second in voting and one point for finishing third.
He has a full no-trade provision through the 2012 season. After that, he can select 10 teams he cannot be dealt to without his consent.
“I think the rest of his teammates feel like when he’s out there pitching, this is going to be a ‘W,'” manager Ken Macha said. “I like what I’ve seen so far.”
Gallardo’s agreement replaced a one-year contract that Milwaukee had renewed for $450,000 last month. While sometimes renewals cause acrimony, both sides said that they were working toward a long-term deal beginning as far back as last season.
“We think it’s a huge signing for our organization to be able to have Yovani tied up for the number of years,” said assistant GM Gord Ash, who handle negotiations.
The latest long-term contract means the Brewers now have their top two starters set for the next three years including this season to go along with All-Star Ryan Braun, who is signed through 2015. The club is also talking with Prince Fielder on an extension, but Melvin has been very cautious when discussing anything about those negotiations.
“We’ve said all along we’d like to have Prince here, too, over the long haul and Prince has indicated he’d like to be here,” Melvin said. “Between those two statements, there’s a lot of negotiating going on. That’s about all I can say at this point.”
With Randy Wolf ($29.75 million, three years) and Doug Davis ($5.25 million, one year), the Brewers have committed $65.1 million since the end of last season on upgrading their starting rotation that finished with a majors-worst 5.37 ERA last year.
Gallardo was a second-round pick in 2004 with the Brewers and went 13-12 with a 3.73 ERA and 204 strikeouts in 30 starts last season. He missed all but four starts in 2008 with a torn ligament in his right knee after starting the year on the disabled list with torn cartilage in his left one.
As Gallardo pitched well last season despite his average-looking record and proved he was healthy throughout, the Brewers expanded their offer.
“It’s just a good feeling,” Gallardo said. “Any ballplayer can say once they get certain things, contract extensions, you’re able to relax a bit more, go out there, have fun and enjoy the game. And more than anything, just go out there and pitch.”