Once again, the Milwaukee Brewers rank right in the middle of the NL Central Division in 2024 payroll

When the Milwaukee Brewers hit Citi Field for their season opener against the New York Mets on Friday — the originally scheduled opening day on Thursday was postponed — just under one-fifth of their opening-day payroll will be committed to players unable to even suit up.

Left-hander Wade Miley ($7 million salary for 2024), right-hander Devin Williams ($7 million), right-hander Brandon Woodruff ($2.25 million), right-hander Taylor Clarke ($1.25 million) and outfielder Garrett Mitchell ($770,000) are all slated to start on the injured list.

Together, they account for $18,520,000 of Milwaukee’s current $96,705,000 payroll according to the salary tracking website Spotrac. That figure, barring any major additions or subtractions, is nearly $12 million lower than the Brewers’ 2023 opening-day payroll and almost $24 million below 2022’s.

Woodruff will miss the entire 2024 season after undergoing shoulder surgery, a fact that was known when the two sides agreed to a two-year deal during spring training.

Miley’s and Clarke’s absences are expected to be short-term. But Williams (back) and Mitchell (hand) – both expected to be key cogs on a team pushing for another postseason berth – are going to be out for the foreseeable future, already forcing the Brewers to lean on their depth.

Miley and Williams are tied as the team’s highest-paid pitchers for 2024 payroll purposes.

But with Miley on the IL, Milwaukee’s projected starting five of Freddy Peralta ($5,735,000), Jakob Junis ($4 million), Colin Rea ($3.5 million), Joe Ross ($1.75 million) and DL Hall ($770,000) adds up to $11,755,000 – just under $4 million less than Corbin Burnes alone was to be paid this season before he was traded to the Baltimore Orioles.

Christian Yelich repeats as the Brewers' highest-paid player in 2024

Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich repeats as the team’s highest-paid player this season with a $22 million payroll number, with $4 million deferred.
Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich repeats as the team’s highest-paid player this season with a $22 million payroll number, with $4 million deferred.

Elsewhere on the roster, outfielder Christian Yelich once again repeats as the team’s highest-paid player with a $22 million payroll number (he’s deferring $4 million per season through 2028), followed by shortstop Willy Adames at $12,250,000 and offseason free-agent acquisition Rhys Hoskins at $12 million.

The eighth-highest paid player on the roster? That will be 20-year-old outfielder Jackson Chourio, who accounts for a $2.25 million figure ($2 million salary, $250,000 signing bonus) after inking a record-setting eight-year, $82 million contract in December.

William Contreras is the best bargain on Brewers roster

The biggest bargain on the roster? That’s easily catcher William Contreras, who as a pre-arbitration player is only pulling in around $770,000. It will be worth watching to see if team and player can work out a long-term extension moving forward that is amenable to both sides.

Positionally speaking, Milwaukee's outlay of $3,770,000 for both Contreras and Gary Sánchez behind the plate should be an absolute bonus.

If catcher Eric Haase ($1 million salary) winds up making the opening-day roster in the wake of Mitchell’s injury, 14 of the Brewers' 26 active players will be making at least $1 million.

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Left-hander Aaron Ashby, who will begin the season at Class AAA Nashville, accounts for $1.45 million and is the 15th player to hit the $1 million mark.

Aside from Yelich, the Brewers are also paying out deferred salaries to three former players this season: Kolten Wong ($2.5 million), Ryan Braun ($1.8 million) and Lorenzo Cain. Those figures aren’t being counted against the 2024 payroll.

Miley ($1 million) and Andrew Chafin ($750,000) do total $1.75 million against the payroll for buyouts due following the 2023 season.

How do the Brewers stack up against the rest of the National League Central?

Once again, right in the middle.

The Chicago Cubs, with five players making at least $18 million in 2024, lead the way with a payroll of $222,610,000. Next come the St. Louis Cardinals with an outlay of $166,847,000, the Cincinnati Reds at $93,493,000 and finally the Pittsburgh Pirates at $76,634,000.

This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Milwaukee Brewers payroll: Who is team's highest paid player in 2024?