Ah, everyone’s favorite monthly trade rumor: Ryan Braun to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Al Melchior of FanRag Sports tosses wood on the fire this time, asking if Braun is still a viable avenue for the Dodgers.

Los Angeles and Milwaukee came close to a trade that would’ve exchanged Braun for a packaged headlined by Yasiel Puig in August, but time worked against the parties. Braun was even advised to wait in the clubhouse for the official agreement while his teammates gave their farewells. But there’s yet to be any traction on an offseason trade, and the Dodgers have been focused on keeping their own and upgrading second base.

Melchior argues Braun would be an even bigger asset than Brian Dozier, who has been at the forefront of all Dodgers trade rumors in December. He points out Braun finished 11th in the MLB with a .417 wOBA versus left-handers, his fifth year of the past six he’s exceeded the .400 mark. Dozier finished last season at .397, but Melchior attributes that to Dozier’s sudden power surge, as his career wOBA against left-handers sits at .365, significantly lower than Braun’s.

With that said, Melchior understands why the Dodgers would be hesitant to re-explore a deal with Milwaukee. Dozier is just a two-year commitment, while Braun’s contract complicates any trade.

All other things being equal, the Dodgers would be well-served to step up their pursuit of Braun, but all other things aren’t equal. Braun just turned in his best season since 2012, but he is at a stage in his career when decline can begin at any time. He would cost the Dodgers $19 million in salary in 2017, but even if he were to regress from being a 3.2-win player (using fWAR) to the 2.9-win level he established in 2015, he should make that investment pay off. After that, though, Braun will still be owed $57 million over his age 34-to-36 seasons. With each passing year, it would become less likely that Braun would give the Dodgers a positive return.

That isn’t necessarily the case financially, however. BrewCrewBall.com explained the reality of the Braun situation last May.

$14 million is deferred over his contract, with the cash due starting in 2022, the year following Braun’s mutual option. The deferrals are spread across a decade, equating to $1.8 million per year. BrewCrewBall suggested Milwaukee would be willing to cover the deferrals, given their tendency to pay salary to facilitate trades during their rebuild. If the Brewers do just that, Braun’s contract becomes a four-year deal for $62 million, with a fifth year option almost guaranteed to be declined.

At that point, Braun is paid $15.5 million per year, a reasonable number for a player of his caliber, and a number he’d probably exceed on the free agent market. However, as Melchior said, Braun isn’t a positive fielder and is trending downward. He acknowledges it could prevent Braun from becoming a three-win player, whereas Dozier could “significantly regress” and still be worth four wins.

Melchior brings up the notion of Mark Trumbo or Jose Bautista manning the outfield at Chavez Ravine, citing both as cheaper alternatives to Braun (though if Milwaukee covered the deferrals, that likely isn’t the case). But they also have defensive deficiencies and are casualties of a limited market because of a refusal to lower their prices. Either way, Melchior opines adding any of the three would vastly benefit the 2017 and 2018 Dodgers.

Also noted is because of Dozier’s undervalued contract, adding him and Braun is possible. The Dodgers just spent almost $200 million to retain three of their own free agents, however, so now might not be the best time. The organization is shedding multiple dead weight deals in the coming years but it will have to consider payroll constraints, upcoming extensions and handicapping its ability to play the free agent market.

“I think it would be inappropriate for me to get into any detail about any of that stuff,’’ Braun said to USA TODAY Sports on a trade to the Dodgers. “Obviously, I live in Los Angeles in the offseason. I grew up a Dodger fan. When those conversations started, I think it was an interesting position for me to be in. But I love Milwaukee. I’m happy being a Brewer. And if those conversations were to continue, we’ll see where they lead.’’

Whether it’s Dozier, Braun or someone else, the Dodgers don’t seem content just yet.

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About The Author

News Desk

Gabe Burns is an award-winning journalist. He serves as a reporter and editor at the DodgersNation news desk. He additionally works as editor-in-chief of The Spectator, Valdosta State University's student paper. Gabe's work has been featured on a number of platforms, including Draft Breakdown and Pro Football Spot. His byline has been cited in media such as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune. Aside from covering Dodgers baseball, Gabe enjoys watching the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Orlando Magic and Tampa Bay Lightning. He can be followed on Twitter at @GabeBurns_DN.

13 Responses

  1. Izzylangfan

    This story is very old news and there is no evidence that there are current conversations. I don’t like this kind of fluff. Repeating bad journalism doesn’t improve it.

    Reply
  2. Danielsocal

    Izzylangfan 100% right. Taking on another large contract for an aging player is the opposite of the Dodgers plan. This story isn’t coming from any new info, just a journalist who needed to write a story.

    Reply
  3. yarritsblake

    I’m just trying to figure out who we get to fix our problem against LHP.  I mean, it is becoming increasingly clear that Dozier may not be the answer for us since it appears the Twins want JDL as the headline plus Stewart and another top 10 prospect of ours – too rich for me by far.  Braun is a great fit, for the next two years, but after that could become a liability to us with a slightly burdensome (but not overwhelmingly so) contract and decreasing performance overall.  Kinsler was out the minute he demanded a contract extension to waive his no-trade clause.  Forsythe is a decent option, but isn’t THE answer we are looking for, and who knows what the Rays would be asking.  Plouffe is a cheap option, but is very meh offensively, and his defensive metrics at 2B are absolutely awful!  And that’s about it on the free agent market without going after someone with a qualifying offer attached to them.  That and Trumbo or Bautista (the only decent offensive FA’s left) both have qualifying offers attached to them, and they will cost a good amount in annual salaries.  Trade market is just as bare.  Kinsler, Forsythe, Dozier, and Braun have been the only good RHB that I have heard mentioned.

    We may just have to roll the dice with in-house options.  I don’t think it is too much to ask for improvement from the likes of SVS and Hernandez.  Plus, hopefully with Trayce Thompson healthy, we will be sitting alright.  I mean, it is easy to forget that Thompson was hitting about .270 through May with improving defense before his back broke (and he told no one) and his performance plummeted.  If healthy, and if he gives us around .260/.330/.450 split (which is about what I’d reasonably project for a healthy Thompson) then that is our answer for LHP in left-field.

    Reply
  4. yarritsblake

    Short version of my post I made.  It appears Dozier and Braun are too expensive for us (one in prospects, one in money).  The free agent market sucks RHB.  The rest of the trade market for RHB is lame with Forsythe being the only viable option – and the Rays likely know this and will set his asking price accordingly.  A healthy Trayce Thompson is our best hope for the answer to our LF and hitting LHP problem.  2B still has not answer yet.

    Reply
  5. pauldodgerfan1965

    yarritsblake
    Dodgers DO have the depth of prospects to make this deal, but the Twins just may be asking for an unreasonable amount in return.  Giants only interest in Dozier is to make it as difficult as they can for the Dodgers to get him by driving up the cost.  That IMHO is the ONLY reason Giants would be involved here.

    Reply
  6. yarritsblake

    pauldodgerfan1965 yarritsblake Oh I’m not saying we don’t have the prospect depth to make the deal happen.  It’s just the prospects the Twins seem to be asking for are ones I either 1) I’d prefer not to trade if at all possible (i.e. JDL), or 2) Two or more prospects I’d rather not deal at the same time (i.e. JDL AND Stewart).  We have to be reasonable though in understanding that in order to get talent we have to give up talent.  I’d be comfortable, as I’ve stated before, with Stewart and Calhoun or even Verdugo headlining a Dozier deal, but JDL with any of those guys is not ok with me.  Remember when guys like Zach Lee, Allen Webster, Chris Withrow and Ethan Martin were all can’t miss prospects, and how we didn’t include Lee in trades that could have netted some talent in return?  Now, our talent is better than it was in 2010 and 2011, and our farm is much deeper.  That means our top talent should be used to leverage for better players, and we should be comfortable with that when it does happen because of our depth throughout the system, top to bottom.  Either way though, I still would rather not deal JDL and other pieces like Stewart for Dozier.

    Reply
  7. pauldodgerfan1965

    yarritsblake pauldodgerfan1965
    I am not advocating JDL to be dealt and certainly not along with Stewart, Verdugo and all, but Dodgers will and do have those chips now.  Dodgers however have agree to include JDL to headline that deal but the question remains on who else.

    Reply
  8. tnt74128

    How is this deal not done! This should’ve been done on the first day it was discussed. Braun is a game changer. He’s a career 305 BA. He’s not just gonna fall off the face of the earth after 2 or 3 years. Puig will not be on his level offensively in the next 3 years. They wanted Puig, McCarthy and a prospect?!?! As for Dozier, I’d think JDL, Calhoun and another young arm should do it. This front office frustrates me. They hire all these suppose to be all stars in the office and they become timid? The Giants are gonna scoop one of these guys.

    Reply
  9. yarritsblake

    pauldodgerfan1965 yarritsblake I know that isn’t what you are advocating.  We do have the prospects to get some major deals done, but it is in our better long-term interest to hold onto most of them.

    Reply
  10. Robert Hamilton

    tnt74128 You’re correct. The Giants always seem to get more out of less. This FO keeps tripping over themselves. By the Giants saying that they are interested in the same FA’s only elevates the value. Boy how they make the Dodgers dance to their drum beat. This cat is in hot persute of his tail.

    Reply
  11. Dodgers Rumors: Andrew McCutchen, Ryan Braun Could Emerge as Trade Targets | Dodgers Nation

    […] As Rosenthal noted, the Dodgers tried to acquire Braun twice in the last year. We recently heard he could re-emerge as a trade target. Milwaukee has been quiet regarding Braun this offseason, but with the past negotiations, it’s possible a deal could come together quickly from previous framework. I explained how the financial commitment to Braun isn’t as bad as it seems on the surface. […]

    Reply

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