Ryan Braun has gotten off to a hot start in 2016. After three years of dealing with nagging injuries and a suspension for PED use, he is finally returning to his All-Star form. With Braun’s resurgence comes a difficult decision for the Brewers. What should the Brewers do with Braun?
The Brewers are in full rebuild mode. They have traded away veterans for prospects in order to build a team that can compete for many years to come. So where does Braun fit in this plan? He is under contract until 2020 with a club option for 2021 at a very reasonable price by today’s standards.
Braun is currently fourth in the National League with a .367 average, has 7 home runs and 28 RBI. He is on a tear and it is reasonable to expect that he will continue to produce at the plate for the rest of the season. There will be plenty of teams looking for that kind of production between now and the trade deadline. It is quite possible that one of those teams will be willing to give up some top-level prospects in exchange for Braun.
Last year at the trade deadline, the Brewers traded Carlos Gomez and Mike Fiers for outfield prospects Domingo Santana and Brett Phillips and pitching prospects Josh Hader and Adrian Houser. It is conceivable that Braun could fetch an even bigger haul this year, which would add valuable pieces to the rebuilding process. The outfield could become pretty crowded in the next couple of years, which would make Braun somewhat expendable.
On the other hand, the Brewers could hold on to Braun as a veteran to build around, somebody that the young players can look up to and learn from. Even though the outfield will be crowded in the near future, there could still be a place for Braun in this rebuild, as the Brewers are lacking in first base prospects. Braun does have infield experience, having come up as a third baseman, and could do well at first.
For the most part, Brewer fans have forgiven Braun for his PED use and all of the ugliness that followed. He was drafted by the Brewers and when he signed his extension, he planned on retiring as a member of the Brewers.
Braun is among the leaders in Brewer history in several categories. He has the most home runs with 262 and counting, is just one run behind Cecil Cooper for third in runs scored, fourth in doubles, fifth in hits, third in RBI, and second in batting average. He is just 38 home runs away from being the first to ever hit 300 as a Brewer. If he plays out his contract in a Milwaukee uniform, it is conceivable that he could be on top of all of those categories.
Brewer general manager David Stearns does have a tough decision to make, but he stands to win no matter which way he goes, as long as he does not drop his asking price. If a team is willing to give up some top-level prospects, the Brewers will add to their already improved farm system. If they keep Braun, they have a solid run producer and Brewer icon leading a young team into contention.
So what do you think? Should the Brewers trade Braun for a stable of prospects, or should they keep him as a veteran leader in a young clubhouse? Let me know in the comments.