Back in spring training, Ryan Braun left the door open to possibly returning to play for the Brewers this season if he got the itch to come back. Then, a few days ago, Braun officially announced he would be retiring. Guess the itch didn’t come back, right?
Well, not necessarily.
According to Braun, he had serious discussions with the Brewers about a return back in July and August.
The suspicions of fans were true, but they did not come to fruition.
Ryan Braun nearly returned to playing for the Brewers in July, but there wasn’t much of a spot for him on the roster.
Right around the time Braun mentioned he was in discussions about returning to the Brewers, Lorenzo Cain was stuck on the IL, Daniel Vogelbach was hurt, and Keston Hiura wasn’t producing. There could’ve been some opportunities for him both in the outfield and at first base. There certainly would’ve been room on the bench for him.
But then Cain returned, Rowdy Tellez seized the first base role, and Eduardo Escobar was added to the mix. Escobar had been having a strong season for Arizona and was a more surefire acquisition to help this team than taking Braun out of retirement would’ve been.
Adding Braun would’ve taken at-bats away from Tyrone Taylor for sure, and while normally that wouldn’t be a large concern, it’s clear that Taylor is deserving of opportunities and has done well in them.
With the depth that Stearns acquired on the position player front with Escobar and Tellez in the infield and Bradley and Taylor in the outfield, there wasn’t much room for Braun on this roster. Injuries and poor performance opened up some, but they were filled before Braun was ready to return.
David Stearns and the Brewers couldn’t wait around and not fill those holes hoping that Braun would be ready to help at a moment’s notice. He was going to make that decision on his time, not theirs. They had to operate as if he wasn’t coming back and they did.
As Braun said, he’s at peace with his decision to retire and that’s the most important thing. But as fans, it just leads people to imagine what could’ve been if Braun did come back and got the send off he deserved. What could he have brought to the team? What more career milestones and records could he reach? Could he finally help the team get a ring?
We’ll never know for sure. But we do know Braun did get the itch to come back, but they just couldn’t line up on a way to get it done.