Tag: Ryan Braun

Is Ryan Braun or Brian Dozier the Better Superstar Bat on Trade Market?

First it was Ryan Braun. Now it’s Brian Dozier.

It’s hardly a surprise to see the Los Angeles Dodgers linked to a right-handed hitter with power, given the difficulties they had against left-handed pitching in 2016. They were the only team to make the playoffs despite a losing record when facing a lefty starter, and they went 0-3 when facing lefties in the postseason.

Braun (1.010 OPS against left-handers in 2016) could help them. Dozier (.965) could, too.

As of this moment, the Dodgers don’t have either one. They haven’t traded for Braun, despite midseason talks that nearly led to a deal, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today. They haven’t yet traded for Dozier, despite a willingness to discuss top prospect Jose De Leon, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports.

Both remain available on the trade market, even though Milwaukee Brewers general manager David Stearns told Milwaukee’s 105.7 The Fan, “My expectation is that Ryan’s going to be here next year and going forward.”

You can take that to mean he hasn’t received any reasonable offers this winter, because it’s hard to believe the rebuilding Brewers wouldn’t remain open to a deal.

The question—for the Dodgers and any other team looking to trade for right-handed pop—is whether Braun or Dozier would be a bigger help. They don’t play the same position, and they don’t have the same contract, but they’re similar players in terms of offensive potential.

“Braun is a more complete hitter,” said one American League scout who saw both play last year.

“Everything equal, I would take Braun offensively,” another AL scout agreed. “But I would rather have Dozier overall.”

So would I, for reasons that go beyond Braun’s 2013 suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs.

Braun might be a better bet to hit big in 2017. His 134 OPS+ over the last two seasons, as calculated by Baseball-Reference.com, ranked higher than Jose Bautista and Manny Machado, among others.

But Dozier hit more home runs than Braun and nearly everyone else in baseball in 2016. (He tied Edwin Encarnacion and Khris Davis for third in the majors, with 42.) Dozier, who turns 30 in May, is also three-and-a-half years younger than Braun.

Then there are the contracts.

Dozier’s is more than reasonable, with a $6 million salary for 2017 that jumps to $9 million for 2018. He’s eligible for free agency after that, so it would cost considerably more to keep him long-term. Still, he’s a bargain.

Braun is not. He makes $19 million each of the next two seasons, then $18 million in 2019 and $16 million in 2020, when he’ll be 36. He can also block trades to all but six teams. Since the Dodgers are one of the six on his list, and since they’re one of the clubs that can afford his contract, it’s not surprising that the Brewers’ most serious trade talks concerning Braun seem to have been with them.

It’s also not a surprise the Dodgers seem to prefer Dozier, who plays a position of greater need.

The Minnesota Twins should have a bigger market for the affordable Dozier, and Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports noted the San Francisco Giants’ interest on Tuesday. Beyond those two teams, though, it’s hard to come up with a contender in need of a second baseman. The Detroit Tigers faced the same issue when they gauged trade interest in their second baseman, Ian Kinsler.


Besides the better contract, Dozier has another edge. The Twins second baseman has played 155 or more games each of the last three seasons, while Braun last played 150 contests in 2012. He played 135 in 2016, never going on the disabled list but missing time with a back injury.

Braun had surgery to repair a herniated disk after the 2015 season, which surely is a concern to any team considering a trade.

Dozier doesn’t carry similar risk—or similar baggage. While Braun hasn’t been in trouble since serving his suspension, the fact he was busted for PEDs doesn’t go away.

As one anonymous team executive told Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, “When a guy with that contract has been busted once, it’s hard to commit those dollars and those player resources because if he gets busted again, you lose all of your guys and you lose Braun. Nobody is saying he’d do it again, but while he’s a very good impact player, it’s just a tough one.”

With Dozier, the question is whether you believe his 2016 season was a breakout or a career year. Is he now a 40-homer-a-year guy, or will he slip back to the 18-28 range he was in before last season?

“I have more trust in Braun to maintain the consistency of impact,” one National League scout said.

Because of the contract, the acquisition cost, the back trouble and even the drug past, a team trading for Braun would be taking a bigger risk. But it could be for a bigger reward.


Danny Knobler covers Major League Baseball as a national columnist for Bleacher Report.

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Yasiel Puig-for-Ryan Braun Blockbuster Worth the Risk for Both Sides

The Los Angeles Dodgers and Milwaukee Brewers couldn’t complete a Yasiel Puig-for-Ryan Braun trade in August. Nonetheless, they left a sense they could do so eventually.

Well, how ’bout now?

After all, the August proposal wasn’t just some preposterous idea the Dodgers and Brewers kicked around for only a minute or two. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported Sept. 2 the two sides made a “legitimate attempt” to complete it, and Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported Sept. 14 a deal was “about 20 minutes” from being finished before the Aug. 31 deadline passed.

Some things have changed since then. But according to Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times, among the things that haven’t is Puig‘s availability:

Meanwhile in Milwaukee, Braun and the Brewers haven’t pushed thoughts of a trade out of sight or out of mind. General manager David Stearns told the Associated Press (via ESPN.com) on Wednesday that he’s asked about it regularly. Braun, for his part, is getting tired of being in limbo.

“Not knowing 100 percent where [I’ll] be playing is hard. It definitely complicates things,” he said. “Obviously, things come up. It’s a part of the business. It’s a part of the profession. If something were to happen, we’d figure it out when we get there.”

Mind you, there are hurdles in the way for the Dodgers to trade their 25-year-old right fielder for the Brewers’ 33-year-old left fielder.

The big one is money. Braun’s contract still has four years and $76 million left on it. Puig‘s contract calls for only two years and $17.4 million, plus a year of arbitration in 2019.

Though the Dodgers have spared no expense in recent years, swapping the contracts would be problematic. As Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday, they’re looking to cut payroll as they seek to satisfy a mandate from Major League Baseball to reduce their debt.

But where there’s a will, there’s a way. And both sides should still have the will to bring their earlier talks to completion.

For the Brewers, trading Braun would be the next step toward completing their rebuild.

They’ve already shed a lot of payroll, going from a mark of $104.2 million on Opening Day in 2015 to $63.9 million in 2016. If they move Braun’s contract, their guaranteed money will be down to Matt Garza’s $12.5 million salary for 2017.

All that payroll space would be needed soon enough. Through smart drafting and trading, Milwaukee has turned a barren farm system into one that MLB.com’s Jim Callis ranked No. 1 in early August. It shouldn’t be long before the Brewers have one of baseball’s best young cores. Not long after that, they’ll be looking to lock it up.

Let’s not kid ourselves. Freeing up payroll would be the main attraction for Milwaukee in a Braun deal. But if it’s going to take on a player in return, it may as well be a lottery ticket like Puig.

He certainly has issues. He went from a .925 OPS in 2013 to a .740 OPS in 2016. With a total of 183 games played over the last two seasons, his durability has trended in the same direction. And even with his worst incidents seemingly behind him, his character remains yet another question mark.

“They’re going to take the next two weeks to try to figure out whether Yasiel Puig can fit onto the team,” Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball wrote in mid-September. “Nobody has cited anything terrible Puig has done, but there’s no getting around the fact he’d annoyed an entire clubhouse.”

If nothing else, this makes Puig a perfect candidate for a change of scenery. Going from Los Angeles, one of MLB’s biggest media markets, to Milwaukee, one of its smallest, could be just the change of scenery he needs.

Puig‘s durability and production are different matters. But as far as reasons to be optimistic go, his youth is a darn good one. With his age-26 season due up in 2017, he shouldn’t be past his physical prime.

Besides, Puig‘s struggle hasn’t been a steady string of badness. He has shown flashes of the Rookie of the Year runner-up and All-Star that he was in 2013 and 2014. He began 2015 with an .816 OPS through his first 40 games, and he ended 2016 with an .857 OPS over his final 51 games.

If Puig stays on the field and maintains that form, he would be one of two things for the Brewers: one of many quality players on a young and exciting roster or valuable trade bait if it turns out the team needs more time to rebuild.

As for the other end of this trade, the fit between Braun and the Dodgers is more straightforward.

With a career .910 OPS and an .879 OPS with 55 home runs and 40 stolen bases over the last two seasons, Braun would be an upgrade for Los Angeles in either left or right field. Those two spots were the Dodgers’ worst for offense in 2016.

The fact that Braun is a right-handed hitter gives him extra appeal. With Justin Turner afloat on the free-agent waters, Los Angeles needs one of those to balance a lineup that skews left-handed with Corey Seager, Adrian Gonzalez, Joc Pederson, Andrew Toles and switch-hitter Yasmani Grandal.

The left-handedness of the Dodgers lineup contributed to its fatal flaw in 2016. With a .622 OPS, Los Angeles was the most inept team in the majors against left-handed pitching. It hit left-handers about as well as Erick Aybar hit everyone.

It so happens Braun is especially lethal against lefties. The 1.010 OPS he had against lefties in 2016 was in line with his career 1.028 OPS against them.

That, by the way, is the best mark of any hitter with at least 1,000 plate appearances against lefties since 2007, Braun’s rookie season.

How much longer Braun keeps this up is a good question. He’s not young, so his recent thumb and back surgeries and average of 136 games played over each of the last three seasons loom large. So does his history with performance-enhancing drugs, which got him suspended in 2013.

These concerns are why the Dodgers must try to send more than just Puig to Milwaukee. As Nightengale reported, they were also going to give up prospects and Brandon McCarthy, who would’ve helped even things out with his $23 million in guaranteed money over the next two seasons. That idea should remain on the table.

But one way or another, Braun offers enough potential reward to balance the risk.

For all his question marks, he’s been productive in the last two seasons despite being old and (for all we know) clean. If he ages well, there’s more where this came from. If he doesn’t, he could still be a useful player as he comes down from high heights.

Of course, the Dodgers must have worked this out months ago. The same goes for the Brewers with Puig. Two teams don’t get 20 minutes from a trade without convincing themselves it’s a good idea.

So, all the clubs have to do now is get back to talking.


Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted/linked. Payroll and contract information courtesy of Cot’s Baseball  .

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Ryan Braun Was Reportedly Almost Traded to Dodgers for Yasiel Puig

A potential blockbuster trade between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Milwaukee Brewers came just short of completion before the Aug. 31 waivers deadline.

According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, Ryan Braun was almost swapped for Yasiel Puig and others before the clock simply ran out:

Braun and Puig were about 20 minutes from being traded for one another two weeks ago, according to several executives with direct knowledge of their trade talks, but the teams ran out of time at the Aug. 31 trade deadline. …

Braun was being traded to the Dodgers, who would pay the entire $76 million in his contract, for outfielder Yasiel Puig, injured veteran pitcher Brandon McCarthy and prospects.

Although the deal reportedly came down to the final prospect in consideration, the two sides couldn’t complete the deal. However, Nightengale adds that “officials vowed to revisit the talks again this winter.”

Braun was once one of the most feared hitters in baseball, winning the 2011 National League Most Valuable Player award and finishing as a runner-up in 2012. However, he admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs in 2013, and his play suffered shortly after.

The 32-year-old player has seen a resurgence in 2016, however, entering Tuesday with a .310 batting average, 27 home runs and 82 RBI. Adding his bat would have provided Los Angeles with a boost heading into the home stretch of the regular season and the playoffs.

Braun was at least intrigued by the possibility of the deal.

“Obviously, I live in Los Angeles in the offseason. I grew up a Dodger fan. When those conversations started, I think it was an interesting position for me to be in,” the outfielder said of the potential move, per Nightengale.

Meanwhile, Puig had been in hot water within the Dodgers organization. The team tried to trade him at the July 31 non-waivers deadline, per Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball, but ended up sending him down to Triple-A. At the time, he had just a .260 batting average and seven home runs on the year.

Los Angeles placed him on waivers, where he was apparently claimed by the Brewers, as Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported, although no trade was completed.

Puig returned to the majors in September and has made a positive impact, hitting three home runs with a .357 batting average in his first seven games back. His improvements could change the terms of a deal with Milwaukee if he’s traded this winter.


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Ryan Braun Trade Rumors: Latest News, Speculation on Brewers OF

Outfielder Ryan Braun would make a good trade candidate, especially with the Milwaukee Brewers squarely in sell mode before the August 1 non-waiver trade deadline, as he’s in the midst of another strong season.

Continue for updates. 

Brewers Reportedly Receive Lackluster Offer

Friday, July 29

Per MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, the Brewers did receive “at least one [offer]” for Braun that was described as “terrible” given his success in 2016.

There are two sides to the coin with Braun that would explain why a reported trade offer for him is not up to the standard Milwaukee might be seeking. 

On the one side, Braun is hitting .321/.383/.515 with 14 home runs in 85 games. A power bat like that would make a huge difference in the middle of a contending team’s lineup down the stretch in 2016. 

However, looking on the other side of this particular coin, Braun is 32 years old and hasn’t played more than 140 games in a season since 2012. He’s signed through 2020 with a mutual option for 2021 and is due to make $76 million over the next four seasons, per Baseball-Reference.com

If Braun were still 27-28 years old, making a deal for a player with that many years and that kind of salary left on his contract would not be as much of a problem. 

The Brewers have every incentive to try to get out from Braun’s contract. Their payroll decreased by nearly $41 million from 2015 to 2016, and Braun’s $20 million salary this season accounts for nearly one-third of Milwaukee’s $63.9 million payroll, per Cot’s Baseball Contracts

A team trying to rebuild its farm system cannot afford to be paying one player so much money over the next four years.

Catcher Jonathan Lucroy, who has been one of the most-buzzed about trade candidates, makes sense as a chip because he plays a premium position, has an OPS of .848 and has a team option for $5.25 million in 2017, per Baseball-Reference.com. He will net a huge return if the Brewers deal him because of his positional value and salary. 

It’s just going to be hard to convince a contending team in need of a bat that Braun is the answer when he is still owed so much money into his mid- and late-30s. 



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Forming Ryan Braun-Bryce Harper Duo Could Be Game-Changer for Nationals

The Milwaukee Brewers and Washington Nationals open a three-game set in Milwaukee on June 24. Ryan Braun will probably still be in a Brewers uniform at that point, though the trade chatter surrounding him will only intensify as the Aug. 1 non-waiver deadline approaches.

Washington fans should watch that series closely—and feel free to picture Braun and Bryce Harper patrolling the same outfield.

Braun has heard the rumblings. He knows he’s a veteran slugger on a rebuilding team.

“It seems regardless of which team we’re playing, that’s the team I’m getting traded to,” he said Monday, per Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

It’s that time of year, when whispers and hypothetical swaps start flying around like hot dog wrappers on a blustery day.

Braun to the Nats, though, makes a fair bit of sense. And it could be a game-changer for the National League East leaders as they take their 2016 redemption tour into the heat of summer.

First, the particulars on Braun: The 32-year-old left fielder and 2011 NL MVP is enjoying a renaissance season, hitting .307 with 11 homers and an .889 OPS.

There are red flags. He battled thumb issues and underwent back surgery in 2015. He’s the lowest-ranked regular left fielder in the game defensively, per FanGraphs.

Then there’s the 2013 performance-enhancing drug suspension that will forever stain his legacy.

His healthy, resurgent 2016, however, “has altered the perception of him as a player you wouldn’t touch because of his age and PED history into someone worth considering,” sources told ESPN.com’s Buster Olney in May.

Which brings us back to the Nationals, who could use an offensive boost in the outfield.

Harper, the reigning NL MVP, is ensconced in right field. The rest of the picture, however, is a muddled mess.

Veteran left fielder Jayson Werth is hitting .244 with an anemic .755 OPS. Center fielder Ben Revere owns a .212/.262/.285 slash line, which stands next to Michael Taylor’s equally punchless .219/.252/.348 line. And fifth outfielder Chris Heisey isn’t going to save the day.

Braun would represent a dramatic upgrade. Slot him between Harper and second baseman Daniel Murphy in the Nats lineup, and suddenly you’ve got a genuinely fearsome heart of the order:

Braun is making $20 million this season and will make the same amount in 2017 and 2018. He’s then owed $19 million in 2019 and $17 million in 2020, with a $15 million mutual option for 2021 or a $4 million buyout.

That’s a lot of dough for a player rolling toward his mid-30s, but it’s not stratospheric by today’s standards.

And the Brewers have been willing to take on a share of the financial burden to make trades work, as they did with Yovani Gallardo, Aramis Ramirez and Jonathan Broxton last year.

Or Washington could shoulder most of the monetary load and keep the prized chips in a farm system Bleacher Report’s Joel Reuter ranked No. 15 in the game in February.

As Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported in May, Braun has a no-trade clause that allows him to block a trade to any team except the Arizona Diamondbacks, Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Dodgers, Miami Marlins, San Diego Padres or San Francisco Giants.

Given his Southern California roots, it’s not surprising that list is mostly composed of West Coast clubs.

At the same time, Braun has never advanced past the National League Championship Series and hasn’t tasted the postseason since 2011. It’s possible the appeal of going to a winner would trump geographic preference.

Speaking of the postseason, the Nats are on a quest to stave off the defending NL champion New York Mets in the East and extinguish the memory of last season’s second-place flameout. And they’re in a win-now window, with Harper set to hit the open market after the 2018 season and likely bolt for a ludicrous payday somewhere else (think pinstripes).

Braun comes with baggage, no question. He might only have a couple more productive years left, meaning the back end of his deal could be a payroll drag. And asking the 37-year-old Werth, who is owed $21 million this season and next, to cede playing time may cause clubhouse friction.

But if anyone knows how to handle PED-tainted sluggers and juggle clubhouse egos, it’s Nationals skipper Dusty Baker, a players’ manager who won a bunch of games with Barry Bonds in San Francisco and, later, Sammy Sosa in Chicago.

As with any potential trade, there’s risk. But there’s also ample reward.

Circle that June 24 series, Nats fans. And allow yourselves to picture Braun swapping sides.


All statistics and contract information current as of June 14 and courtesy of MLB.com and Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.

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Ryan Braun Trade Rumors: Latest News, Speculation on Brewers Star

Milwaukee Brewers star outfielder Ryan Braun is considered a prime candidate to be dealt to a contending team before the trade deadline.

Continue for updates. 

Giants Showing Interest in Braun

Monday, June 13

The San Francisco Giants have had “preliminary talks” with the Milwaukee Brewers about acquiring outfielder Ryan Braun, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, although “nothing [is] imminent.”

Interest in Braun, 32, is nothing new. In late May, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe wrote the following:

He’s the hot name out there,” said one National League scout. Braun is having an outstanding year, seemingly all the way back from PED disgrace and the subsequent reduction of his numbers. Which team could benefit from the righthanded, middle-of-the-order bat? The scout thought the Houston Astros, St. Louis Cardinals, Boston Red Sox, Philadelphia Phillies, New York Mets, San Francisco Giants, and Chicago White Sox were good fits. Braun is in the first year of a five-year, $105 million extension.

That contract might be an issue for some teams. Braun isn’t young, and there’s always the fear he will fail to live up to his huge deal as he gets into his late 30s.

Those aren’t the only concerns. As Zachary D. Rymer of Bleacher Report wrote, “Prospective buyers not only have to square themselves with his contract, but with his recent thumb and back woes. Also, nobody’s forgetting his performance-enhancing drug drama.”

Still, Braun is having an excellent season—he’s hitting .316 with 11 home runs, 36 RBI, 26 runs and five stolen bases in 52 games this season—and while he is no longer an MVP candidate, he’s a reliable bat that can solidify the middle of the lineup. 

For teams looking to bolster their offense without sacrificing much defense in the outfield, Braun would be an excellent addition so long as they’re comfortable absorbing his substantial contract.

Braun, however, will likely have the final say in where he lands. As Rymer noted, he can block trades to all but five MLB teams if he so chooses, another potential hurdle for the Brewers if they decide to unload him this summer.

On the other hand, if Braun wants to compete for a World Series title this season, a trade is assuredly his best chance of doing so. 

That increases the chances of his departure from Milwaukee, with more teams likely to inquire about his services before the August 1 trade deadline.


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Ryan Braun and Jay Bruce Looking Like Game-Changing Trade Assets

There are two guys in the NL Central having great bounce-back seasons but whose efforts are being wasted on clubs that are about as bad as everyone expected them to be.

It sounds like these two guys would be better off in greener pastures. And before long, the summer trade market could make it happen.

Provided you know how to read a headline, you’ve already figured out I’m talking about Milwaukee Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun and Cincinnati Reds right fielder Jay Bruce. They’re looming large on the ol‘ radar after combining for three home runs Saturday. Braun clubbed two in a 7-4 win over the New York Mets at Miller Park, and Bruce sent one into orbit in a 2-1 victory over the Oakland A’s at Great American Ball Park.

It is that dinger to which we shall turn our attention:

Ooh. Ahh. Whoa. Et cetera.

Braun’s 10th and 11th home runs of 2016 snapped him out of a mini-funk and upped his batting average to .316 and his OPS to .919. After hitting just .275 with an .815 OPS over the last two seasons, the 32-year-old is “back” like Matthew McConaughey circa 2014.

Bruce is enjoying a renaissance of his own. His 14th home run of 2016 upped his average to .276 and his OPS to .911. For a guy who hit just .222 with a .695 OPS over the last two campaigns, the 29-year-old’s comeback is one that no lame reference to an actor can properly capture.

With the Brewers and the Reds stuck in full-on rebuilding mode as they languish many games behind the Chicago Cubs in the NL Central, the only question is how long it will be before their clubs move Braun and/or Bruce. The best answer appears to be “soon.”

Jeff Todd of MLB Trade Rumors has already rated Braun and Bruce among the league’s top 10 summer trade candidates, and Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe has heard rumblings about both. Braun is the “hot name out there,” an NL scout told Cafardo. The Reds are “open for business and Bruce is available.”

Braun and Bruce both have no-trade protection in their contracts. The former can block trades to all but five clubs. The latter can block trades to eight clubs. But Bruce’s contract is less of a hurdle for prospective buyers. Braun is still owed $80 million over four years after 2016. Bruce is owed $12.5 million this year, after which his club can either pick up a $13 million option or pay a $1 million buyout.

That not only equates to less money for the Reds and a buyer to haggle over, but it means fewer questions for buyers to ask regarding whether Bruce can keep up his hot hitting. And as it is, his hot hitting is believable enough.

Bruce never recovered from the left-knee woes he experienced in 2014, and the knee seemed to dog him in 2015 too. As August Fagerstrom of FanGraphs wrote, the most noticeable problem was Bruce’s opposite-field power, or lack thereof.

But this year, it’s made a nice comeback. As of Saturday morning, Bruce’s recent opposite-field slugging percentages lined up like this:

  • 2014: .313
  • 2015: .374
  • 2016: .615

Bruce has been clobbering the ball in general this year. His overall hard-hit rate was 38.7 percent entering Saturday, well ahead of his career rate of 34.5 percent. So despite some less than awesome defensive metrics, he’s looking a lot like the feared slugger he was between 2010 and 2013.

Braun, meanwhile, comes with more baggage. Prospective buyers not only have to square themselves with his contract, but with his recent thumb and back woes. Also, nobody’s forgetting his performance-enhancing drug drama.

But as rival evaluators told Buster Olney of ESPN.com last month, Braun’s 2016 season has “altered the perception of him as a player you wouldn’t touch because of his age and PED history into someone worth considering.” At least in part, this would seem to be thanks to his return to good health.

“Swing is in a good place, bat path is in a good place,” Braun said in April, via Genaro C. Armas of the Associated Press. “But more than that, I’m healthy, healthiest I’ve been in a while. I feel good.”

We’ll have to take Braun’s word for it that he’s feeling healthy for the first time in a while, but there’s no need to take his word for it on his swing. After struggling mightily in 2014 and 2015, he’s not chasing (O-Swing percent), whiffing (SwStr percent) or striking out (K percent) as much in 2016:

One thing to be skeptical about is the rate at which Braun is putting balls on the ground, as his 54.4 GB percent is way above his career norm. The fact that he’s putting up good power numbers despite that, however, points to how he’s not wasting what he puts in the air. His hard-hit rate on fly balls is safely above his career average.

And where Bruce only has hit bat to offer, Braun can still run the bases and, depending on which metric you prefer, is playing a good left field. He’s not the same guy, but he’s at least a reflection of the person who was contending for MVPs in his heyday.

A scout Cafardo spoke to listed the Houston Astros, Boston Red Sox, St. Louis Cardinals, Philadelphia Phillies, New York Mets, San Francisco Giants and Chicago White Sox as potential buyers for Braun. Narrow that list to clubs with the financial and young talent assets needed to make music, and the Astros, Red Sox and Phillies make a fair bit of sense.

Per Cafardo, teams that could be interested in Bruce are the Phillies, Cardinals and Mets, plus the Kansas City Royals. KC’s subpar right field production and long list of injuries give it incentive to go after Bruce. But it should watch out for the Cleveland Indians, a fellow AL Central contender that could be a sleeper in the Bruce sweepstakes.

With Braun and Bruce looking like their better selves on teams that have virtually no reasons to keep them, everything is there for the trade winds to start blowing.


Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted/linked. Contract info courtesy of Cot’s Baseball Contracts.

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Ryan Braun’s Superstar Comeback Makes Him High-Profile Trade Chip

For 10 big league seasons, Ryan Braun has worn uniforms that said only “Milwaukee” or “Brewers” across the front.

Before the 2016 MLB trade deadline slides past, that could change.

Yes, it’s a little early to talk trades. Chances are that even clubs with zero shot at the playoffs and assets to unload will wait until the heat of summer to wheel and deal.

When that time comes, however, look for Braun’s name to churn through the rumor mill. Virtually every contender could use another power bat—and so far, Braun is flexing his muscles for the rebuilding Brewers.

In fact, after a month-plus of action, Braun is looking tantalizingly similar to his old superstar self.

After going 2-for-3 with a solo home run, a double, two runs and a walk in Sunday’s 5-4 win over the Cincinnati Reds, Braun sports a gaudy .367/.430/.615 slash line to go along with seven homers and 24 RBI.

It’s early, a small sample sizeyada, yada, yada. But we’ve seen this guy before.

Braun’s surge calls to mind his salad days, when he hit at least 25 homers and drove in more than 100 runs for a five-year stretch between 2008 and 2012 and picked up a National League MVP trophy in 2011.

Then came 2013’s legacy-tarnishing performance-enhancing-drug suspension, followed by two seasons of diminished performance.

Braun didn’t disappear. He hit 25 home runs last year and made the All-Star team. But it was worth wondering if he’d ever recapture his former glory, especially after undergoing offseason back surgery.

At the same time, Braun is just 32 years old. Not a spring chicken, but far from a cooked goose. Stranger renaissances have happened.

Even if and when Braun’s production takes a slight dip, if he stays healthy and reasonably productive, he’s sure to draw ample trade interest.

As Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal recently noted, Braun has a no-trade clause that allows him to block a swap to any team except the Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Dodgers, Miami Marlins, Arizona Diamondbacks, San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants.

None of those teams is an especially likely landing spot. But just because Braun can block a trade to another club doesn’t mean he will.

We’re talking about a guy who has tasted the postseason only twice and has never advanced as far as the World Series. If the opportunity arose to go to a winner, surely he’d consider it.

And his contract, while lucrative, isn’t a deal-breaker. After this season, Braun is owed $76 million over four years, including a $4 million buyout. That’s not nothing, but it isn’t a bank-buster by today’s standards.

Plus, the Brewers have shown a willingness to take on a share of the financial burden to sweeten the deal, as they did with Yovani Gallardo, Aramis Ramirez and Jonathan Broxton last season.

Based on his no-trade exemptions, it’s clear Braun prefers to go to the West Coast, which makes sense given his Southern California roots.

If he were willing to broaden his scope, however, he’d be an attractive option for an array of clubs, particularly in the wide-open American League, where the designated hitter slot prolongs careers.

The Texas Rangers play in a hitter-friendly yard and are counting on converted shortstop Ian Desmond and his .239 average to hold down left field.

Or how about the surprising Chicago White Sox, who have a potential need at DH after Adam LaRoche’s abrupt spring training retirement?

Dave Cameron of FanGraphs added the Boston Red Sox and Washington Nationals as two other plausible destinations.

We could keep going. Again, the list of teams that wouldn’t benefit from a game-changing power bat is short, bordering on nonexistent.

The point is this: If Milwaukee dangles Braun and is willing to eat some cashand if Braun is willing to waive his no-trade clause for a shot at a ringthere will be suitors.

“You have to take it in steps,” Milwaukee owner Mark Attanasio said recently of his team’s rebuild, per Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “You have to get back to the playoffs again. And then we’d like to [get to the World Series]. We missed by two games in 2011. We’d like not to miss next time.”

The 2011 run came with Braun at the height of his powers. Now, the return of those powers could help the Brewers get backwith Braun in another uniform.


All statistics and contract information current as of May 8 and courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.

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Ryan Braun Injury: Updates on Brewers Star’s Back and Return

Ryan Braun‘s back is flaring up late in spring training, causing the Milwaukee Brewers to take him out of the lineup on Thursday. He is not expected to miss time in the regular season, though it’s unclear exactly when he will return.

Continue for updates.

Counsell Comments on Braun’s Playing Status 

Saturday, March 26

“I’m confident he’ll be in the lineup on Opening Day,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said, per Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “I really am.”

Injury-Plagued Braun Still a Star Slugger 

The 2011 National League MVP battled back problems last season, eventually undergoing surgery to repair a herniated disc in October. 

In November, Braun told Haudricourt his rehab was progressing well:

I feel pretty good, knock on wood. The only surprise is the rehab is a little longer than I was anticipating, just a couple months of rehab. Other than that, everything was as expected. 

The first couple of days post-procedure were not fun; it was painful. But other than that, I feel good. I’m doing my physical therapy stuff four days a week. I definitely feel pretty good right now.

Braun, who is 32 years old, had a strong rebound season in 2015 after a poor 2014 in which he posted a career-low .777 OPS. He’s not the MVP-caliber player from early in his career, but he still hit 25 home runs with an .854 OPS in 140 games last season. 

The Brewers are fully immersed in rebuilding their roster and acquiring assets for the future, so contending in 2016 is a long shot. 

Braun is the last vestige of Milwaukee’s 2008 and 2011 playoff teams and signed through 2020 with a mutual option for 2021. His health will be a huge focal point for the Brewers, who are paying him a lot of money as they endure a lot of struggles on the field. 

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Ryan Braun Injury: Updates on Brewers Star’s Recovery from Back Surgery

Milwaukee Brewers slugger Ryan Braun continues to rehabilitate from offseason back surgery. 

Continue for updates.

Braun’s Recovery from Surgery Behind Schedule

Sunday, Jan. 31

Braun isn’t expected to be fully rehabilitated before the start of camp, per Adam McCalvy of MLB.com. He could still be ready in time for Opening Day, however.

He had surgery to repair a herniated disc in his lower back a week after the 2015 season ended.

Braun, 32, hit .285 with 25 home runs and 84 RBI last season.   

He is one of the few remaining impact players in Milwaukee—along with Jonathan Lucroy and Khris Davis—as the Brewers undergo a rebuilding phase. That process continued Saturday, when the team traded shortstop Jean Segura to the Arizona Diamondbacks in a five-player deal, per the Associated press (via ESPN). 

Braun isn’t allowing the rebuild to adversely affect him, however, per Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

He added, “I look forward to it. We’re not breaking up a juggernaut team,” per McCalvy

That perhaps came in response to comments Lucroy made recently, saying he wanted to play for a World Series title and that he didn’t see the Brewers as a playoff contender this year. He also added, “Rebuilding is not a lot of fun for any veteran guy,” per Haudricourt.

Of course, despite Braun’s public acceptance of the rebuild, he could nonetheless become a very popular trade target, namely if he returns from his back issues and continues to post big numbers. Braun remains one of the most well-rounded players in all of baseball, so teams will come calling if the Brewers struggle early and he is posting big numbers.

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