Before the non-waiver trade deadline hit on August 1, 2016, the Dodgers were rumored to be involved in discussions for multiple big name players. The rumors carried on all the way through the August waiver deadline. The most notable rumor that went around the mill was a trade for the Brewers’ outfielder, Ryan Braun. The reported deal that fell through was Ryan Braun for Yasiel Puig, Brandon McCarthy, and more.
Ryan Braun has never been one to be welcomed by the Los Angeles crowd. He is best known for “robbing” Matt Kemp of the 2011 Most Valuable Player Award. That was followed by months and months of performance enhancing drug accusations towards Braun, which he later served a 50 game suspension for in 2013. But times have changed. Braun is still a quality player, Kemp has moved on to his second team since he was traded by the Dodgers, and those memories are beginning to fade.
Now before the “how could the Dodgers ever accept a player that was suspended for PED’s?” thoughts enter your mind, do not forget that one of those men already play on the team. Thats right. Yasmani Grandal was forced to sit out the first 50 games of the 2013 season for violating the league’s drug policy. It managed to somewhat fly under the radar because at that point he had not made much of a name for himself in the major leagues.
Anyways, the soon to be 33-year-old Braun is coming off of a very productive 2016 where he managed to put up a .903 OPS. That is just below the former 2011 MVP’s career average of .910. Another thing worth noting is that he hit 30 home runs. Something that he had not done since he hit 41 in 2012.
Braun actually makes a lot of sense for the Dodgers. During the entire 2016 regular season and playoffs, the Dodgers lacked an impact bat that could beat up on left-handed pitching. Braun owns a career .336 AVG against lefties and put up an even better average of .344 in 2016.
With Justin Turner gone (for now), the only possible starters that can hit right handed are Kendrick, Grandal (switch-hitter), and the man reported to be headlining the deal for Braun, Yasiel Puig. Trayce Thompson and Kiké Hernandez also both hit from the right side, but do not figure to be starting every day in 2017.
There were multiple reports that the Dodgers and Brewers were moments away from coming to an agreement on a deal. Some said that the Dodgers pulled out, others say it was the Brewers. It is possible that the two teams could have just ran out of time. Well both teams now have nothing but time for about five months. The matchup is still there. The Dodgers need a proven, consistent bat in the heart of their lineup that can hit from the right side. The Brewers could bank on Yasiel Puig’s upside with his very team friendly contract. If McCarthy is once again involved in the talks, he is a very serviceable starter. Lastly, the Dodgers have a very deep farm system, so surely the Brewers would gladly accept any prospects they can get!
According to Charlie Wilmoth of MLB Trade Rumors in the Milwaukee Brewers Offseason Outlook, the Brewers will be entertaining offers on Braun. The proposed deal that was allegedly in place at the time that the two sides were originally talking, looked to be an unusual one. That could be the reason that both sides ran out of time.
There would have been a ton of money swapping hands in this deal. Puig and McCarthy are set to make a combined $39.5MM through 2018. Braun is still owed $76MM through 2020, and his contract also has a mutual option set at $15MM for 2021.
The deal itself is quite a wild one. If the Dodgers were to go through with it, it would mean that they have given up on Puig. Puig stormed his way to the big leagues. Once he arrived he smashed all competition, but has been at a steady decline ever since. Battling through injuries, off the field issues, and conflicts with others in the clubhouse have provided him with a roller coaster of a time in America.
From a distance, it seems like it would be so easy to part with someone that. Then you see a glimpse of his unmatched ability and he sucks you right back in. Puig has been a part of the Dodgers for what seems like a very long time. He was part of the group that turned the mediocre Dodgers into a consistent playoff threat. The sentiment is there with Puig, but the front office has shown that they will do anything it takes to win. Even if it means throwing relationships out the window.
McCarthy on the other hand, has had a rough go as a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers. He had been battling injuries (all to varying degrees) for the last couple years before signing with the Dodgers. Those injuries were why most were quite shocked when the Dodgers offered him a 4-year, $48MM contract with an $8MM club option for 2019. He spent nearly the entire 2015 season on the disabled list after going through Tommy John surgery. He finally made it back in mid-2016 and showed a flash of brilliance. He dominated for a few starts but then became fatigued and was sidelined again. He ended up missing out on the chance to pitch for the Dodgers in the 2016 playoffs.
Either way, the trade looks to make sense on both ends. The Dodgers need a reliable bat from the right side more than ever. The Brewers are still in a rebuilding mode. They get a few years of control in both Yasiel Puig and Brandon McCarthy. Both of them, when healthy have the ability to play like all-stars. The Brewers would also be offloading about half of Braun’s money in a deal, unless the Dodgers ask that they cover more after they take on McCarthy’s contract. It is more than likely that this specific scenario will be revisited soon.