Entering the final guaranteed year of his contract, Milwaukee Brewers’ outfielder Ryan Braun has acknowledged the possibility of retirement.
Milwaukee Brewers’ Ryan Braun is a former National League Rookie of the Year (2007) and MVP (2011), but he’s a long way from that peak and he’s now 36-years-old. Appearing at the team’s fan event Sunday, he acknowledged the coming season could be his last in Milwaukee and the last of his career.
Braun is entering the final guaranteed year of a five-year, $105 million contract, and it seems unlikely the Brewers will pick up a $15 million option for 2021. He is also without a set primary position as spring training approaches, with free agent signings Avisail Garcia and Justin Smoak set to be the starters in left field and first base respectively. Braun will surely be a part-time player, and see time at both spots with pinch-hit and DH opportunities where applicable.
Injuries have limited Braun in recent years, as last year’s 144 games played were his highest since 2012 and just his second time getting to 140 games in the last six seasons. He had a solid year last year, hitting .285 with 22 home runs, 75 RBI and 11 stolen bases, and he has been a solidly above-average hitter pretty much right along (OPS+ of 116 in 2019). But in a broader sense, he has been a barely above replacement-level player with bWARs of 1.2, 1.1 and 1.8 over the last three seasons.
Whenever Braun does call it a career, the stain of a failed PED test and what happened in concert with it will be etched in memory beyond anything he did on the field. In July of 2013 he was suspended for the remainder of that season after admitting he had used performance-enhancing drugs during his 2011 MVP season.
But prior to that, Braun successfully challenged the failed drug test, while particularly questioning the integrity of the man who handled and shipped his sample during a memorable soliloquy at 2012 spring training. When his failed test was further proven, Braun’s denials and attack on an innocent man were subject to worthy and harsh criticism.
Braun will enter the 2020 season with 344 home runs, 1,128 RBI, a .298 batting average and an .893 OPS for his career.