It’s hard to imagine, but the 2020 season could be the last for Ryan Braun with the Milwaukee Brewers and perhaps his baseball career.
Since the 2007 season we have seen a lot of change within the Milwaukee Brewers organization from General Managers, members of the coaching staff, and of course, countless players coming in and out. However, there has been one constant during this 13 year span, and that has been Ryan Braun.
Drafted by the Brewers in the first-round of the 2005 MLB Draft, Braun would make his debut in May of 2007 and as they say, the rest is history. After Milwaukee hadn’t made the playoffs for 26 consecutive seasons, Braun has been a part of four playoff teams, including two trips to the NLCS, has an MVP award and many clutch moments along the way.
However, now at 36-years-old and in the final year of the guaranteed portion of his 5 year – $105 million contract, there is the very real possibility that this could be Braun’s final season not just with the Milwaukee Brewers but as a baseball player.
And he certainly realizes that when asked about his future at Brewers On Deck:
“I don’t take for granted this could be my last year playing baseball,” Braun said. “Obviously, there’s a sense of urgency every year, but for me, knowing that this could be my last chance ever, it’s something that adds to that sense of urgency.”
While of course there is the possibility that this is Braun’s final season, I still wouldn’t rule out a return in 2021. Although his playing time has to be monitored, Braun was still incredibly effective last season as he slashed .285/.343/.505 with a wRC+ of 117.
If Braun can have a similar performance in 2020, with a core of Christian Yelich, Lorenzo Cain, and Keston Hiura, bringing him back on a one-year deal would make sense as long as he wants to continue playing. And if that ends up being the case, my guess is that it will be less than the $15 million mutual option that he currently has built into his contract.
On the flip side, we also have to come to grips that there could be the chance that Braun ends up on another team if he wants to continue playing but the Brewers aren’t willing to pay him what he can get elsewhere. And while we should never say never, I have a hard time envisioning Braun in another uniform.
As I’ve already mentioned, if he keeps playing at this level it will be difficult not to bring Braun back on a short-term deal. With that said, if this season doesn’t go as planned, I could very well see him just walking away and retiring.
Ultimately, these are decisions that don’t need to be made until after the season, but as fans of the Milwaukee Brewers, we need to soak up every moment that Ryan Bruan takes the field this season because this could very well be his last.