The Milwaukee Brewers aren’t a team in a win-now kind of mode, and with their start looking more and more like what it was predicted to be, the rumors suggesting a Ryan Braun trade are getting stronger, with the Boston Red Sox, Washington Nationals and Chicago White Sox lineup up as interesting landing spots.
For all three teams, the money might be difficult to accept: Braun makes $96 million through the 2020 season and there’s a $15 million mutual option with a $4 million buyout in 2021. That’s taking a big contract for a 32 year old who might be hitting that steep decline button anytime soon. But for a team with a win-now kind of approach, Braun can be an upgrade and more.
In Boston, the Red Sox aren’t only thinking about this year, but perhaps about the player who fills in for David Ortiz. The immediate change by bringing him in to the Red Sox will be moving Brock Holt, who is hitting .268 so far this season with two home runs, to a super-utility role. Braun could do very well in Fenway park, and give Boston the best lineup in the majors. But that probably depends on the Brewers taking a dead money contract like Pablo Sandoval or Rusney Castillo. That’s not what they’re going to be looking for, and giving up both Braun and Jonathan Lucroy for young talent might be a bit too much.
The White Sox are another team off to a great start who could use just a little bit more in order to really put themselves in a position to maybe go all the way this season. Avisail Garcia is giving them very little in left field, batting just .214 with three home runs and nine RBIs. They also have freed up money after Adam LaRoche left. Their biggest problem might be the lack of young talent the Brewers will be interested in, not having the best farm system to being with, and already making a trade that cut into their development pool in the offseason.
How about the Nationals? The thought of pairing up Bryce Harper and Braun is intriguing. However, it changes a lot of things inside the lineup and the team: Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth won’t like it, and it probably means moving up Daniel Murphy in the order. Braun, who finished with a 3.8 WAR last season, making the All-Star game for the sixth time, might be too dramatic of change for the Nats, even if they do feel their window of opportunity to win now could be closing slowly if they don’t act fast.
Braun is batting .374 so far this season through 25 games and 102 plate appearances, hitting five home runs and 25 RBIs. He has a 1.035 OPS, his OBP is .441 and his slugging is at .593. He’s playing for the 11-16 Brewers so it’s flying under the radar, and like Lucroy, might be slowly building frustration about not playing for a franchise that intends to win in the near future.