The market for right-handed power bats.
The Milwaukee Brewers have a valuable asset in Ryan Braun. Let’s take a look at the market for right-handed power and how Braun fits into it.
One of the biggest off-season stories for the Milwaukee Brewers is what is going to happen with Ryan Braun. Will he be traded or will he remain with the team? Based on the current market for outfielders and power bats, signs point to Braun manning left field for the Brewers come spring.
A glut of right-handed power on the market.
Right now the largest obstacle to trading Braun seems to be the amount of similar players on the market. It is hard to see a Braun trade happening until some of the free agent chips come off of the table. Also the market for these types of players appears to be falling off.
Encarnacion is the best right-handed bat on the market. At this point in his career he is limited to 1B/DH. He has been remarkably consistent since 2012, averaging slightly over 4 fWAR per year since then. MLB trade rumors is projecting his contract to land at 4 years, 92 million. It now seems like this price is coming down. If it ends up closer to 4 years, 80 million. Ryan Braun no longer becomes a cheaper option.
Trumbo is a step below Encarnacion. He can play the outfield, but is probably better suited to 1B/DH as well. However he does have the most home run power of this free agent class, he hit 47 last year. Trumbo is projected to get 4 years 60 million by MLBTR. At this point that projection seems like a stretch. He is a cheaper option than Braun, but he is nowhere near the player Braun is.
The 36-year-old Bautista is projected at 3 years 51 million. I have a hard time seeing him get that in the current environment. He is definitely on the decline phase of his career and had a down year in 2016 (1.4 fWAR). Bautista plays left field and could be seen as a less expensive short-term fix compared to Ryan Braun.
There are 3 sluggers of varying quality on the open market. Also it has been widely reported that Andrew McCutchen is available for the right price. All of these things together conspire to keep Ryan Braun’s trade value down. David Stearns has said he is open to trade talks on any player. But he also has gotten some great return value from the trades he has made. Unless the Brewers are floored by an offer, I think Braun will be with the Milwaukee Brewers come opening day.