The Chicago Cubs have been dominating Major League Baseball so far in 2016. The Cubs not only own a 7.5 game lead in the NL Central, but with their record sitting at 24-6 they own a 3 game lead over the cross-town White Sox for the league's best record. That's not necessarily a team that one would think could be looking to make a major addition.
When you haven't won a World Series in 108 years like the North Siders, though, you'd probably want to do just about anything you can to pad your chances. That's why despite their supremacy in the season's early going, Jim Bowden of ESPN reports that the Cubs may be targeting a significant upgrade in left field after losing slugging outfielder/catcher Kyle Schwarber for the year within the first week of the regular season. Among the handful of names that Bowden suggested that Chicago could pursue was Brewers' outfielder Ryan Braun.
From a baseball standpoint, Braun could certainly make sense as a target for Chicago. He's been one of the best hitters in baseball this season, slashing .367/.430/.615 with seven home runs (171 wRC+) though 121 plate appearances. He's 32 this season and is owed another $76 mil over the next four years after 2016, but as Derek illustrated recently that contract shouldn't be a big hindrance to moving Braun anymore given the financial landscape of the game today and going forward. The large-market Cubs shouldn't have much of a payroll issue, anyhow. Braun would add yet another weapon to the World Series favorites' star-studded lineup, though he would have to agree to waive his no-trade clause.
Despite calling up many of their top prospects last season, the Cubs still have a pretty stacked minor league system as well. Someone like Gleybar Torres, Wilson Contreras, or Ian Happ could certainly pique the Brewers interest as a headliner and there are plenty of teenage prospects that could serve as complimentary pieces, the types of young players that Slingin' David Stearns has shown an affinity for during his tenure as Brewers' GM.
Personally, I'm all for listening on any player at any time as long as the trade return will benefit the Brewers in the long-term. Though as much as I'd love to raid the Cubbies' deep farm system, boy would it be tough to watch Ryan Braun patrolling left at Wrigley Field. He's been the face of the franchise for nearly a decade now and is arguably the best offensive player in Milwaukee history. Having to see Braunie suit up for the visiting team whenever the hated Cubs come to town would be difficult for me to stomach. Possibly having to see the Hebrew Hammer lead Chicago out of their 108 years of wandering through the wilderness would feel like having a nightmare come true.
I'd be fine if the Brewers never traded Braun and he was still a pillar of their next contending team. I'd probably be fine if they traded him and got a nice haul of prospects for him, too. But if he's traded to a division rival like Chicago, a piece of my heart will assuredly die that day.
Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs