Despite early beliefs that the end of Ryan Braun’s career may be near the end, the Milwaukee Brewers franchise star may get some new life.
Ryan Braun put a lot of fear and worry into the hearts of Brewers fans back at Brewers On Deck in January when he said that 2020 might be the final season of his career.
Braun, 36, has been on the Brewers since 2007 and for most Brewers fans it’s tough to not see him as a member of the team anymore. 2020 is the final guaranteed year of his contract and he has a mutual option for $15 million for 2021. That option is highly unlikely to be picked up, and with the Brewers depth at numerous positions, it seemed unlikely he would get much playing time should he want to return.
Over the past few years, Braun has been a bit more of a part-time player, getting regular rest to prevent injuries. The years of playing the outfield has taken a toll on Braun’s body, but when he’s 100% healthy, he’s still as good a hitter as anyone.
As we appear to get closer and closer to a deal for the 2020 season, it’s looking clear that bringing the DH to the National League will be a part of that deal not only for this year, but for 2021 as well.
Braun As A Designated Hitter
The Designated Hitter position was practically designed for players like Braun; players that are getting older and can’t quite play the defensive positions well enough but can still hit enough for an everyday job. The role has extended careers for many players like that.
With less games, and less chance for injury, Braun stands a better chance of remaining healthy through 2020 and feeling good about playing a few more seasons. The addition of the DH only strengthens that.
Instead of a platoon at first base and in right field, Braun can primarily be the DH for the Brewers, giving more playing time to Avisail Garcia and Justin Smoak. With a lower likelihood of injury and less need for maintenance, Braun can play more often and will be closer to 100% most of the time.
That will increase the chances of Braun wanting to return for 2021 and with the DH also included for 2021, that increases the chances the Brewers will want to keep him as well.
With the likelihood of no fans being in the stands for the 2020 season and the thought of this being Braun’s final season, the idea that Braun could play his final game in front of an empty Miller Park with no fans to send him off into retirement seemed too much to bear.
Luckily, it looks like that won’t have to be the case. Should Braun desire another season knowing that the DH is there for him, he stands a strong chance of being brought back on a smaller contract. With, hopefully, full stadiums in 2021 and beyond, Braun should be able to get the final send-off from Brewers fans that he deserves.
Flaws and all, Ryan Braun was the centerpiece of the new Golden Age of Brewers baseball and his 13 years in the league have been the most successful stretch of 13 years in franchise history. For that, he deserves 45,000 Brewers fans in Miller Park cheering him off into retirement at his final game.
Baseball should hopefully return soon, and with the DH coming to the NL, Ryan Braun can play a part for the Brewers moving forward.