Now that we’re past the non-waiver trade deadline, the market for trades will calm down, but it won’t end completely. For the remainder of the season, teams can still make trades, but any players that would be traded would need to clear waivers first. As a result, you don’t see many blockbuster trades go down, though you may see some big names move. I’ll talk more about how the process works tomorrow. First, I want to talk about one of the names that could still be on the move during this period: Ryan Braun.
Recently, Justin Klugh of MLB Daily Dish wrote about Braun in his list of waiver trade candidates, and suggested that if a team claims Braun, the Brewers may just let Braun get claimed through waivers for the salary relief. This was an idea that was mentioned by Matt Snyder of CBS Sports, who sees Ryan Braun as a waiver trade candidate, and possibly a candidate to be claimed through waivers. Snyder also mentions that he believes Braun will pass through waivers due to his salary, but also sees the possibility of letting Braun go if a team claims him.
Let’s start by clarifying one thing: The Brewers aren’t going to let Braun go just for salary relief. The Brewers have only two players making eight-figure salaries right now: Ryan Braun and Matt Garza. While the Brewers wouldn’t mind saving money by getting rid of those contracts, it’s not an urgent need. They have plenty of payroll space and are operating on the lowest payroll in the majors right now. Salary relief is one of the last things on the front office’s mind right now.
In terms of value, Ryan Braun has plenty of it right now. He’s hitting .320/.384/.530 with 16 home runs, 12 stolen bases, and a 139 wRC+. It’s not at the levels he was at when he won and was challenging for MVP, but it’s still very good. It’s leading the Brewers this season, and would be a welcome boost to many teams in the league. GM David Stearns won’t let any player go if he’s got value that can be used, and he has made that clear before.
Of course, there’s also many factors that bring Braun’s value down. He’s getting regular days off now due to some chronic injuries that need management. While the salary isn’t limiting to the Brewers, it may be limiting to other teams pushing their payroll limits. Braun does have a no-trade clause in his contract that will require his permission to be traded to all but six teams, and that becomes a full no-trade clause when he hits ten years of service next season. Finally, there’s the PED usage that’s still hanging over him. These all make it more difficult to trade Braun, but not impossible.
Many of these factors can be mitigated if needed. While Braun’s injuries may require days off in the National League, a team in the American League can put him at DH occasionally (or even regularly) to help keep those injuries in check with fewer off-days. The Brewers can eat some salary in any trade to make sure they get a better return in a trade, as well as open up more teams as potential trade partners. No-trade clauses can be worked around, especially for the right opportunities. Finally, while the PED usage will always be on him, teams have shown that they are willing to acquire any player that can still perform, regardless of the player’s history. As long as Ryan Braun can produce, there will be a market for him.
In the case of Braun, I would agree with what Matt Snyder said in his article. It’s likely that Braun will pass through waivers because of his salary alone. He will be a name to watch as the trade deadline gets closer, and may even be mentioned a few times. The biggest limiting factor here is if the Brewers can get enough value for Braun to make a trade during this period. The need for players to pass through waivers makes it more difficult to work out a trade, but not impossible. However, the chances of Braun being claimed by another team and let go just for salary relief is next to zero.