The St. Louis Cardinals might have just received a wake-up call from the Milwaukee Brewers after rumors surfaced that the division rival is in serious talks with Baseball America's No. 2-ranked major league prospect, Jackson Chourio, on a record-setting contract extension for players yet to debut in the major leagues.
According to Curt Hogg of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Chourio's contract could be around eight years and $80 million to $90 million. The Cardinals, who are in possession of their own potential budding star in the person of Jordan Walker, need to hammer out an agreement with Walker before the Brewers drastically raise the ceiling with a Chourio extension.
Chourio has only played six games above Double-A, a level where he had an .803 OPS in 2023. If he and the Brewers agree to this contract, Chourio will likely debut with the Brewers to open 2024. The contract is obviously a risk, but it would keep Chourio at an affordable price for a lengthy amount of time.
The Cardinals should make a similar deal with Walker. He hit a solid .276 with the Cardinals in his rookie year, improving markedly after returning in early June from a demotion. His fielding was shaky but showed signs of progress later in the year, and his personality and humility were frequently mentioned as standout traits.
Those traits could make Walker a favorite among those in the clubhouse, and as his career progresses, he could make for an excellent mentor for younger players. Although all lengthy extensions have the potential to backfire, Walker's off-the-field intangibles and potential leadership skills down the road should mitigate some of the blowback if he doesn't live up to the contract on the field.
There's no reason to think Walker can't become a star, though; he is tireless in his pursuit of success and oozes talent from every orifice. His motivation, effort and skill set should make him a dominant hitter for years.
Chourio's potential extension could be the next step in the world of baseball's ever-inflating contracts. It's not feasible to believe the Cardinals can extend Walker before the Chourio contract comes to pass, but Cardinals need to make an offer as soon as possible before the roof for these contracts is blown off.