The Brewers are still waiting on a decision from Ryan Braun on whether or not he wants to play in 2021.
A wise man named Tom Petty once said “The waiting is the hardest part”. Currently, the Brewers and Brewers fans are waiting on Ryan Braun to make a decision about his future. Braun himself is waiting for the 2021 plan to become more concrete. This is the hardest part for all involved, considering what each involved party is waiting on is out of their control.
In a conversation with Adam McCalvy, Brewers president of baseball ops David Stearns gave a non-update update on the Braun situation.
Braun, 37, is a free agent for the first time in his career, but after a deluge of injuries over the past few seasons, Braun is considering retirement. If Braun does decide to play in 2021, it’s likely he would only return to the Brewers.
While the teams in LA have been a speculative fit because of their proximity to his offseason home, I find it highly doubtful he would go to the Angels or Dodgers given that he doesn’t fit well on their roster baseball-wise and they don’t have a history with him. It’s most likely Brewers-or-retirement for Braun in 2021.
Deciding Factors For Braun
Waiting to see what the world looks like is a kind of vague way of covering a whole bunch of factors Braun is considering. There’s the Covid-19 pandemic, which took fans out of stadiums in 2020 and wanting to see how much that starts to subside now that the vaccine is being distributed.
What will protocols for players look like? Will there be fans, at least in some capacity? Will they still play 162 games? Those questions still haven’t really been answered.
One baseball factor that Braun also has to be weighing is the status of the DH being in the NL. Somehow, the league has made it to January without making it clear to teams and players whether or not the DH will stay in the NL next year or be taken away. They needed to set that rule in place months ago, and have not.
With the DH, Braun has a path to regular at-bats and has a better chance of staying healthy and furthering his career since he won’t have to play the field. If Braun has to play the field, he’d probably be a backup outfielder and wouldn’t get much playing time, and at that point, would it be worth it for Braun to come back?
The Brewers don’t appear to be pressuring Braun to make a decision, and waiting on him likely isn’t impacting how they approach this offseason at all.
While Braun has been playing less and less over the last few seasons, he’s still been productive when healthy. In 2020, he posted a 101 OPS+ over 39 games and that continues his career streak of all 14 seasons with an above-average OPS+. He can still hit, and if he wants to come back, the Brewers will gladly bring him back.
But we must wait a while for that decision, and that’s the hardest part. Wait to say “goodbye”, or wait to say “hello” again?
The Brewers haven’t made many offseason moves to this point, and still need some corner infield help and possibly a veteran starter.