Ryan Braun Moving to the NL East This Summer?
While the trade deadline is still a couple of months away, it is never too early to consider the mayhem that breaks out on July 31st. The baseball trade deadline is by far the most exciting deadline of its kind in all the major sports leagues and this year will be no different.
Despite their surprising success this year, the Phillies will most likely not be buyers at the trade deadline. The franchise values their young assets far too much to take a stab at a one game Wild Card match up.
Some of their division rivals on the other hand could be looking for a boost to help them through the dog days of summer.
A team that has immensely underachieved is the Washington Nationals. Every year they are picked to win the World Series, yet they seem to take a step back every season despite spending in free agency.
The Nationals do not have a bad staff as we examine it in May. Daniel Murphy has rocked the league with his .387 batting average. Bryce Harper continues to prove himself (to our dismay) as the best youngster in baseball, and the top of the rotation (Strasburg and Scherzer) is a combined 11-3.
When you look closely at the numbers the Nationals are putting up, they are not as strong as you’d imagine. They’re 20th in the league in hits, 14th in runs scored, 16th in slugging, and 15th in OPS.
The lineup clearly needs some juice, and there is one player on the market who could bring just that.
Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun.
While Ryan Braun may not be the most popular player in baseball, he can hit with the best of them. Powered by a career .306 batting average, Ryan Braun could be just the shot in the arm Washington needs.
In 35 games this season, Braun is hitting .364 with seven home runs and 28 RBIs.
Where do you start Braun and over whom? The answer is left field, replacing our old friend here in Philadelphia Jayson Werth.
Since leaving Philadelphia after 2010 and signing a seven year, $126 million contract with the division rivals, Werth has hit just .270 and managed only 84 home runs. In 2016, the 37 year old is hitting only .224.
The guy is just a hairy shell of his 2008-2010 self.
With next season being the last year of his contract, Werth is someone the Nationals could easily part with.
For Braun, his last contract has a no-trade clause, but he can not block a trade to the Nationals.
Financially, the Nationals should be able to sustain Braun’s contract. Jonathan Papelbon will be coming off the books after this year and Gio Gonzalez has an option in his deal. Throw in the cap space once Werth is gone and you have room for Braun.
So what will it take to get Ryan Braun? Considering the Brewers (who are unshockingly terrible) will be fielding a lot of offers for the veteran outfielder, the price could be steep.
The Nationals currently have the first and ninth overall prospects in baseball according to MLB.com. Shortstop Trea Turner is expecting a call up at some point this season, which could take him off the table. That leaves the number one prospect in all of baseball, pitcher Lucas Giolito as someone who might be on the move.
After that, 19 year old outfielder Victor Robles (Nationals number three prospect) may be sent to the Brewers as well. Bryce Harper and Ryan Braun would be controlling the corner outfield positions for the foreseeable future, leaving little space for the teenager from Dominican Republic.
I could also see pitcher AJ Cole being sent from AAA in a change of scenery type of move.
A veteran player such as Stephen Drew, Danny Espinosa, or Ben Revere could also be packaged in a potential Braun trade.
The fact that Braun is older and has an injury history could help Washington keep some of their top prospects.
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To make this deal work, the Brewers would presumably have to send cash considerations to Washington. This should not be a major issue, as Milwaukee has the lowest payroll (just under $64 million) in the entire league. Take out Braun’s contract and the expiring deals of Aaron Hill and Chris Capuano and there is a lot of room for Milwaukee in the long term to help out Washington.
Finally, Ryan Braun is a notorious Phillies killer. In the past three years, he has hit .368 against the Phillies. At Citizens Bank Park, he hits a clean .400.
At Nationals park, he hits a respectable .286, which is significantly better than Jayson Werth’s .212 average at home this season.
The pieces are all there for a deadly hitter to help the Nationals make the playoff push this season. The Phillies will face the Nationals seven times following the July 31st trade deadline. Between now and then, both teams could look extremely different.