Hello all, and welcome to the first series of the offseason. Now, right off the bat, many of you are probably wondering — what on Earth does NPIND mean? Well, that’s the name of this series — Nine Positions in Nine Days. Beginning tonight and ending nine days from now, I’ll be going through each of the nine positions with recaps and discussion of players that spent major time there. I did this at the beginning of the year for The UWM Post and had a pretty fun time with it, so I figured I would bring it back for an offseason edition.
With that being said, let’s get started. I’m not tackling this through the positional numbers on a scoresheet, but rather from the upper left of the field and snaking my way around (LF, CF, RF, 3B, SS, 2B, 1B, C and finally P).
Going all the way back to the end of last season, the Brewers had their man set in left field with Khris Davis. However, many speculated that he wouldn’t spend much time there anymore, and those beliefs ended up being true when Davis was traded to Oakland in mid-February for Jacob Nottingham and Bubba Derby.
Little time went by before speculation of Ryan Braun moving back to his original left field position began to brew. Like the Davis rumors, this one also played out as hinted at. Braun ended up starting 127 games out in left this year – by far the most of any Brewer.
What’s to say about Braun’s season in any other facet than it was a great success? A slash of .305/.365/.538, 30 HR and 91 RBI. It’s a shame he wasn’t selected to the All-Star Game and I’ll forever hold a grudge on that matter. Of course, it’s the steroid drama that many baseball fans have not and will not forget that’s holding back respect towards the veteran. I’ll admit, I used to hold it against him too, mainly to the fact he lied to everyone. I’d be lying if I said I’m still not a little upset, but that’s well in the past. He’s a Brewer and as our friends over at Brew Crew Ball have said all year, #RyanBraunForever.
At this point, Braun has four guaranteed years on his contract, along with a mutual option of a fifth year. Over those four years, he is guaranteed $76 million (that includes the $4 million buyout option). Through that four-year time frame, $14 million is deferred. Take into consideration this past year and $4 million more is deferred. All of this has to be paid back starting in 2022, but it’s spread out to over $1.8 million a year. Considering Braun’s tremendous production, it’s well worth it at this point to keep him a Brewer.
It also goes back to the status of this team. I argue that we’re out of the rebuild and beginning to step into contention mode. Was I #TeamRebuild at the beginning of the year? You bet. I was for selling as many players as possible. However, as crazy as it sounds, that window has already come and gone. The Brewers have obtained the prospects they were in search of. Now, we wait. At this place in time, what point does it make to take Braun and his bat out of the lineup in hopes of a couple of prospects panning out? That’s a mighty risk to take. Also, despite how friendly I described his contract above, many teams will still more than likely associate baggage with Braun, leaving them uncertain about taking on a chunk of that salary.
Let’s pretend the Brewers do make that trade of sending Braun to Los Angeles for Yasiel Puig. If they did, there’s a strong likelihood that the team would just be running in circles in terms of trade circumstances, but possibly with an even less of a chance of a strong return than with Braun. What if Puig fails to produce in Milwaukee but Braun tears it up with the Dodgers? What if the Brewers were floating near .500 but collapsed once Braun was dealt? It’s very unpredictable when it comes to these logistics and the Brewers might be better off by keeping Braun on their roster.
Could Braun be bumped out of position by one of the many prospects floating around the Brewers’ farm system? Theoretically, yes, it could happen, but it likely won’t happen anytime soon. We could be presented a glimpse of Lewis Brinson and Brett Phillips receiving stints during September call-ups next season, but Braun will likely reap the majority of playing time until Corey Ray finds his way to the Majors.
Finally, just imagine how weird it would be to see Braun in another uniform. It just wouldn’t feel right. This man has been a Milwaukee icon ever since he came up to The Show in 2007. Yes, the shadow of the PED use towers over his finest moments in a Brewers jersey, but like many of you and as I mentioned before, I’ve come around in terms of forgiveness. If the rebuild does go as planned, it would be mighty cool to see Braun be a part of it.
NOTE: In some of these, I will be discussing more than one player and how they contributed to that certain position. However, for left field, Braun started 127 games and the next closest with appearances was Jake Elmore (14) but elected free agency yesterday.