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Milwaukee Brewers decline Ryan Braun’s option, slugger heads to free agency

It’s the first time Ryan Braun’s had to test the free agent market in his career

Syndication: Journal Sentinel Rick Wood via Imagn Content Services, LLC

The Milwaukee Brewers have declined outfielder Ryan Braun’s $15 million option for the 2021 season, making the career-long Brewer and former MVP a free agent for the first time.

Braun was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers fifth overall in 2005. In just two short years, he made his debut with Milwaukee and won Rookie of the Year. He immediately cemented his status as a Brewers and helped bring the team to its first playoff appearance in 26 years. The slugger would go on to win an MVP in 2011 and finish second in MVP voting in 2012.

Of course, we all know what comes after 2011. Braun is suspended for the use of performance enhancing drugs but won an appeal between the 2011 and 2012 seasons.

Prior to the season and after his suspension was lifted, he came to a podium in Arizona and hosted a press conference where he bashed Major League Baseball and the people responsible for delivering his urine for testing. He was then caught in the Biogenesis scandal and suspended for most of the 2013 season by MLB.

While Braun has one of the darkest marks in team history, he also has some of the best. He holds several team records and his responsible for some of the biggest moments in Brewers history. He’s made six All-Star rosters and played in five-postseasons.

In 2020, Braun made a prorated portion of $17 million in the final guaranteed year of his second extension signed with the Brewers. Since 2007, he's made over $140,000,000 playing in the Blue and Gold. Last season, he batted just .233/.281/.488 with only eight homers in a shortened season, although, it’s hard to feel bad about that when the rest of the team played worse. In 2019, Braun saw a resurgence in production, boasting an .849 OPS, his highest since 2016.

Milwaukee is still on the hook for a $4,000,000 buyout. Just because the team has declined his option doesn’t mean that they cannot resign him to a new deal, certainly well under the $15,000,000 they would have been on the hook for.

If they don’t bring Braun back, he sounded nearly ready to retire at the end of the season. He’s also stated in the past that he’d really only like to play for Milwaukee or the Los Angeles Dodgers. LA is stacked and wouldn’t have a need for Braun. If the DH is back in the NL in 2021, the Brewers may have a spot on their roster.

Statistics and salary courtesy of Baseball-Reference