Ryan Braun will turn 36 years old during the 2020 season, and it may very well be his last in Milwaukee.
The former MVP has a $15 million mutual option for 2021, but if this past offseason is any indication, it seems unlikely that GM David Stearns would pick up his half of the option for that price. With a possible replacement already on the roster in Avisail Garcia, it’s looking like the 2020 season could be Braun’s goodbye tour.
It’s something Braun himself addressed at Brewers On Deck, saying this year might even be the last of his career (although that decision won’t be made until after the season):
Entering the final guaranteed year of his contract, Ryan Braun acknowledged that this could be his final season in Milwaukee — and maybe the final season of his career. On the urgency of 2020: pic.twitter.com/frxJx3k2RW— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) January 26, 2020
“Obviously there’s a sense of urgency every year, but knowing this could be my last chance ever (at the playoffs or a World Series), it’s something that adds to that sense of urgency and I feel good about the fact that they’ve put a team together that should be competitive again.”
On retirement specifically:
“It’s possible. We’ll see how the year goes, we’re adding another child so we’ll see how the family dynamic changes with a third kid, it’s definitely a possibility, but we’ll see how the year goes, where I’m at physically, and obviously my family is always my top priority so we’ll see how everything is going there.”
For a variety of reasons, it’s hard to imagine Braun playing anywhere else. That’s always the case with someone who’s spent their entire career with one organization, but for Braun in particular, it may be hard for him to be accepted by a fanbase anywhere else, given how he’s been perceived nationally since his PED scandal and the way he handled the entire situation.
Whether it’s via retirement or the team deciding to part ways, it certainly looks like a real possibility Braun will be suiting up for the Brewers for the final time this year. If this is his final year with the Brewers, Braun will likely finish 3rd in franchise history in career WAR; in the top 5 in batting average; third in slugging, OPS, runs scored and hits; second in doubles, total bases, and RBI; and first in home runs.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference