One name that’s been floating around the trading block for quite some time is Ryan Braun. The San Francisco Giants seem like the most serious contenders to trade for the Milwaukee Brewers left fielder.
Why now, and why Braun? Well, the Giants, leading the NL West, have Hunter Pence on the disabled list due to a torn hamstring. That means they’ve been looking for someone to fill his outfield spot, so far relying on a combination of Gregor Blanco and rookies Jarrett Parker and Mac Williamson to flank Denard Span in the outfield corners. But it’s 2016, and it means the Giants are supposed to win the World Series, so why not swing for the fences?
Braun is having a fantastic season, and has been able to somewhat rebuild his name, not testing positive since his 65-game suspension in 2013. Yes, it shouldn’t be such a compliment that someone has been able to stay PED-free for three years, but this major league baseball, and Braun is clean, and hitting very well: In 222 plate appearances, he has 11 home runs and 36 RBIS, batting a .313, getting on base .374 and has a .906 OPS, his highest since 2012.
The 32-year old is on a rebuilding Brewers team, with his five-year extension kicking in, which means he’s making $20 million this season, and is owed $76 million through 2018. In 2019, there’s a $15 million mutual option, with a $4 million buyout. In short, the Brewers will have to absorb some of his salary in order to get someone to work a deal with them, but it’s rumored that their main concern isn’t shedding Braun’s salary; it’s getting premium talent in return.
The Giants do have a lot of contracts expiring at the end of this season (Angel Pagan, Santiago Casilla, Gregor Blanco, Jake Peavy,Sergio Romo and Javier Lopez), but their farm system is considered below average, and there’s a lot of bullpen signings or re-signings the Giants will have to make after the 2016 season. Considering that adding Braun will put them very close to the luxury tax threshold, adding him on to the payroll is a difficult decision to make.
While the Giants are talking to the Brewers, there are five other teams Braun can’t block a trade to: Angels, Dodgers, D-backs, Padres and Marlins. Some of them can offer a better package than the Giants, but at the moment, the NL West leaders are the most serious team when it comes to Braun.