With the MLB draft now completed, it’s really only a matter of time until the bulk of the chatter around baseball begins to revolve around talk of potential trades. Of course with our beloved local nine in the midst of a rebuild many of those trade talks figure to center around current Milwaukee Brewers. The Brewers have two of this year’s top 10 potential trade candidates according to MLB Trade Rumors' latest ranking. #3 on that list is left fielder Ryan Braun, whose name happened to pop up in a rumor earlier this morning.
The #SFGiants are looking everywhere for another OF, and have had preliminary talks with #Brewers about Ryan Braun, but nothing imminent.— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) June 13, 2016
Henter Pence underwent surgery for a torn hamstring last week and figures to miss at least two months and possibly more while recovering, leaving the Giants without one of their best offensive contributors for the bulk of the summer. The outfielder could return for San Francisco down the stretch and is under contract through 2018 at $18,500,000 per season. The Giants have the league’s fifth-largest payroll this year at nearly $174 mil according to Spotrac. It should be noted that Nightengale stated that nothing was imminent, indicating that the talks were preliminary in nature and probably amounted to some simple tire-kicking by the Giants at this point.
The West-leading Giants’ current outfield is a combination of Gregor Blanco, Denard Span, Jarrett Parker, and Mac Williamson, so the team could certainly stand to add an upgrade as they look to pad their five game lead over the Dodgers. It is an even year and the Giants are no strangers to making significant in-season acquisitions, and the San Francisco is not one of the 23 teams Ryan can veto a trade to per the terms of his contract. Braun would be more than a short-term addition for San Francisco, however, as he remains under contract for another 4 years and $76 mil following the 2016 season. The Giants have a lot of money on the books as it is and already have over $90 mil committed to five players as far away as 2020.
The Brewers might consider eating some money in order to facilitate a deal, though Slingin’ David Stearns said earlier this week on MLB Network Radio that there is “no motivation” to move an elite-level player like Braun. He did add, however, that the club is in a position where it needs to be open-minded to all possibilities and that he expects active discussions up to the trade deadline.
After a couple of down years from 2013-14 while batting injuries, Braun has re-established himself as a legitimate offensive threat over the past couple of seasons and has battered opposing pitchers to the tune of a .316/.378/.541 slash (141 wRC+) with 11 home runs across 217 plate appearances this year. A return to left field has resulted in improved defensive marks thus far (albeit in a limited sample size) of 4 Defensive Runs Saved and 1.4 Fielding Runs Above Average, as well.
Sitting at 30-33 and on the fringes of the Wild Card (4.5 games back), it remains to be seen how motivated the Brewers will be to trade The Hebrew Hammer unless they are overwhelmed by an offer. He is their most lethal offensive threat and the club could certainly become a contender again within the window of time that Braun is under contract. The organization may not want to hedge its bets on how much longer the 32 year old remains a force at the plate, however.
The Giants don’t have any elite prospects in their farm system at this time, though they do have several interesting ones. Depending on the amount of money that the Brewers’ might be willing to absorb, they should have no issue asking for a couple of players like SS Christian Arroyo, RHP Tyler Beede, RHP Phil Bickford, or SS Lucious Fox, just to name a few of their top prospects.