Saturday, January 25, 2014

Would a Ryan Braun trade to the Yankees make sense?

Doing a post involving my two least favorite baseball teams probably means that it is late January and there's nothing else baseball related to talk about.  You're probably right.  Like a moth to a flame, I'm repeatedly drawn to Cot's Baseball Contracts and I study the five-year salary projection charts constantly.

By my reckoning, if I could have re-channeled all the amount of useless knowledge in my head, like how much salary the Brewers have committed from 2014-19, I could have cured a disease by now.  Not a major one, like cancer, but a minor one.  Lupus, maybe?

Both the Brewers and Yankees are in desperate need of rebuilds, but neither one is ready to admit it.  The Brewers are on the verge of signing Matt Garza to a reported 4 year/$52M contract.  At least he won't cost them their 1st round pick, like signing Kyle Lohse last year did.  I mention this all the time, but the Brewers are going to be bad.  Not just in 2014, but for the next few years.  Once Garza is signed, the Brewers are going to have close to a $100M opening day payroll in 2014.  All for the pleasure of finishing with no more than 75 wins, probably.

For the 2015 season, though, they'll shed Aramis Ramirez, Yovani Gallardo, and Rickie Weeks' contracts ($39.5M) and still have $53M of commitments, assuming Garza is $13M evenly over his four years.  Ryan Braun will be making $13M himself in 2015; however, in 2016 his extension to his extension kicks in and he will start making $20M.  For a small-mid market team like the Brewers, even if their payroll will be around $100M (thanks to the new national TV contract adding $27M per year), that seems excessive.  Especially when they don't project to be very good.  Their farm system is atrocious.  I put it as the 2nd worst, ahead of only the scorched-earth farm of the Angels.

The Brewers have nice pieces, but not enough to compete with the Cards, Pirates, and Reds over the next five years.  If the plethora of prospects possessed by the Cubs turn out, coupled with their ability to outspend the rest of the NL Central, the Brewers could easily find themselves in the basement for a while.

And that's where the Yankees come in.  After the 2014 season, the Yankees will potentially lose three outfielders in Brett Gardner, Ichiro Suzuki, and Alfonso Soriano.  They'll only have Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran to play CF and RF, respectively, even though Beltran should really switch to DH.  That leaves a gaping hole in LF.

The Yankees just signed Masahiro Tanaka to a 7 year/$155M deal, along with Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Carlos Beltran, so clearly they aren't thinking of rebuilding.  Their farm system is also very bad, probably in the bottom five, so help won't be coming in the form of cost-controlled talent.  The Yankees' idea of rebuilding is buying new talent from trades or free agency.

Let's say that Ryan Braun comes back from his PED suspension in 2014 and puts up a still very good line of .290/.360/.540 with 35 HR's.  Not his peak numbers, but still very, very respectable.

Couldn't you see the Yankees being interested in bringing him on board in 2015 (his age-31 season) and plugging him into LF?  The Brewers could either get out from under his potentially crushing contract of $20M+/season until 2020 and maybe get a prospect or two from the Yankees in the process.  The financial relief alone would help the Brewers re-allocate their resources to the next great corps of Brewers talent.

This really all depends on what the Brewers' owner thinks of Ryan Braun as a person.  If he's fine with his lying about the first drug test, thrown out on a technicality, and his involvement in Biogenesis, then that's fine.  You're made for each other.  But if he's secretly seething about hitching his wagon to a cheater, this could be an opportunity to move on from Braun.

Just something to think about after this offseason.  If you need me, I'll be disappearing down the rabbit hole of Cot's Contracts for a little bit longer.

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