Upon the conclusion of the Brewers being eliminated in the postseason this year, Brewer fans were instantly reminiscing over the fact that they may have seen Ryan Braun’s last professional baseball game.
Today, news broke that the Brewers have officially declined Ryan Braun‘s $15MM mutual option for the 2021 season. The Brewers are yet to make an official announcement as reported by Adam McCalvy.
Thankfully, this news does not mean that Ryan Braun will not be returning to the Brewers in 2021. As mentioned above, this move was expected and is rather a necessary step one towards the future of Ryan Braun being decided.
With the Brewers declining their half of the mutual option they will owe the long-time slugger $4MM in buyout money. From here, Ryan Braun essentially has three options to choose from: return to the Brewers on a new contract, sign with any other team, or proceed with retirement.
Ryan Braun Returns As a Brewer
To date, Ryan Braun has enjoyed 14 seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers. After being the face of the franchise earlier on in his playing career, he has officially passed that torch to teammate Christian Yelich. That being said, Ryan Braun is still a very effective hitter and has only become an even more clutch hitter as his career has progressed.
If the Brewers and Ryan Braun wish to team up together again in 2021, his role would likely be similar to previous seasons in which Craig Counsell is rather conservative with his playing time throughout the regular season and leans on him more towards the tail end of seasons.
Having this type of role certainly decreases the expected average annual value of a new contract and that is something Braun has to acknowledge and accept in order to return as a Brewer.
Ryan Braun Signs With Another Team
There have been zero indications of this occurring, but as a free agent it is a possibility. Braun has been a class act late in his career and has always talked highly about Brewers management, coaches, and players. Nothing he has said has indicate he wants to play anywhere else.
Retirement is the final option for Ryan Braun. Braun has been rather vocal about his feelings of continuing to play this year. However, he has has hinted at both continuing to play and retiring, so what he elects to do is anyone’s guess at this point.
Whether or not the designated hitter remains in the National League or not may play a factor in Braun’s decision. Braun battled a calf strain at the end of the 2019 season that he sustained in the outfield and an oblique strain at the end of the 2020 season when crashing into the outfield wall that eventually knocked him out of postseason action. It’s fair to say, the designated hitter staying may have some sway on Braun’s decision.
There essentially is not timeline for this. Brewers management indicated at the season’s end that they fully expect Braun to take until after the Christmas and New Years Holidays to make a decision, but there is no official deadline. For now, Ryan Braun’s future is a waiting game.