There are 5 years/$85M (through 2021) remaining on Brewers LF Ryan Braun contract. LF Alex Dickerson (or RF Hunter Renfroe), and a few middling prospects would likely make a deal– if Padres ownership is willing to take on the payroll. Prospect/MLB player value would be comparable to the C Jonathan Lucroy to Texas deal last summer, which wouldn’t hamper AJP’s rebuild. PED-stigma aside, Braun is a HOF-production bat as long as his back is healthy.
The Angels, Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Giants, Marlins and Padres are the 6 teams the Brewers can deal him to, without asking him to waive his no-trade clause. This gives AJP tremendous leverage in possibly acquiring one of the best right-handed hitters of this era. HOF-ers (and ace pitching) are what win WS.
The best fit of those 6 teams is the Padres. In terms of prospects available to make the deal the Snakes, Halos & Fish are all discounted due to poor farm systems. They simply don’t have the prospects to make a deal.
Positional availability & payroll limitations take effect too, as the Dodgers have an outfield log-jam– with unloading Yasiel Puig as their current priority.
The Giants have out-of-options Jarrett Parker who is left-handed & cheap– which is what they need in LF. Their bullpen set-up situation is their priority and GM Brian Sabean won’t waste money on something he doesn’t need, unless it falls to replacement level. That’s how you win 3 WS in 5 seasons.
Anyways, the point is: the Padres are the most-logical fit for Ryan Braun. I believe AJP is taking these few weeks in ST to evaluate all his rookie & minor-league talent, in order to determine who is untouchable and whom he is willing to package. Owner Ron Fowler may be “biting his lip for now,” but the headline a few days back read “We’re going to have some fun,” and the article quoted him saying Opening Day payroll would be ~$75M. Right now it’s just under $57M . I forecast the Padres/Brewers are going to make this surprise blockbuster very soon. Shhh!!
Why? 1) Brewers need to move Braun, and the time has come. He’ll be the last piece to be sold off. 2) Braun is undervalued & talented, and AJP covets that. 3) AJP has leverage and Braun fits with SD. Really only the D-backs & Giants could conceivably compete for his services among the 6 listed teams, and they aren’t likely to do so, due to payroll restrictions. 4) Padres owner Ron Fowler has money, and he wants to spend it.
This is a think-outside-the-box situation, an incredible opportunity to move the Padres franchise forward in it’s winning curve. It’s too good for AJP and Fowler to resist, IMO. I know it sounds like I’m out in left-field here [!], but consider this not only as a possibility but as a distinct probability, and watch for any more signs.
Yesterday’s Padres headlines :
Padres set with current crop of players
GM Preller doesn’t expect any adds before start of regular season
AJP is quoted, “Then again, never say never.”
Trades aren’t adds.
If Ryan Braun is acquired by the Padres, then this is my piece. If not, then Play Ball!!!
Acquiring LF Ryan Braun solidifies this lineup as competitive with the Giants & Dodgers. Padres lineup: 1) Manny Margot/Travis Jankowski (platoon) CF, 2) switch-hitter 3B Yangervis Solarte, 3) LF righty-masher Ryan Braun, 4) righty franchise player 1B Wil Myers (or reverse 3-4), 5) lefty pop & OBP 2B Ryan Schimpf, 6) power with excellent defense RF Hunter Renfroe, 7) Elite defense, hopefully-he-hits-enough C Austin Hedges, 8) SS will be the last position to be filled, proving the curse of Ozzie Smith as the hardest for the Padres to exorcise; I like the Luis Sardinas & Allen Cordoba mix.
That’s turning over a lineup from Gyorko, Norris, Upton, Upton, Amarista & Kemp!!! Padres team base-running was tops in MLB last season, and it will likely stay there or near. Their defense improved vastly, and will get even better everywhere except LF, with BJ Upton being clearly better defensively than Braun. Braun if healthy is average-to-slightly-below in LF. What he brings to the plate is all the difference in winning by transforming a lineup.
The 2017 Padres starting pitching has been filled out with low-cost, high bounce-back-potential free agents, but is still two notches (at least) below the NL West elite. They need Luis Perdomo to become their #2 starter, then find/develop an ace. The Padres bullpen should be a strength with the Carter Capps fixing his delivery to become the closer, and Ryan Buchter & Brad Hand as dominant lefty set-up men. The bullpen question marks come in with the righty relief corps, and that’s what the AJP-pitcher-round-up this winter was partly about. The dugout brains is there in manager Andy Green, ace pitching coach Darren Balsley and the rest, so most fans are confident they’ll figure it out. There’s tons of pitching talent, deep in their minor-league system.
This now is a 3rd-place team in the NL West, vaulting past the Diamondbacks & Rockies, with an outside shot at being a wild card contender. The Padres competitive window which appeared to be opening around 2019 or so, is now here in 2017. Note that this doesn’t interfere with their organizational rebuild, as the talent pool has been well-stocked and the Preller pipeline is already bearing fruit with Margot, and the last of the Josh Byrnes prospects. There’s plenty more to come, with prospect depth and payroll commitment/flexibility to get the player(s) they’ll need– whenever they’re ready.
This is a hungry organization with a huge chip on its shoulder, because it has never won a WS since its inception in 1969, and has too often been a joke. The conventional baseball wisdom this winter was the teams that improved themselves the most were CWS, SEA, BOS, blah, blah… Now these MLB experts are going to have to rethink and (gasp!) rewrite their narratives & predictions because this changes many things.
To all those I say: find me another GM who can dominate the Rule 5 draft, sign the best low-cost free agent starting pitchers (4 for <$10M), lock up your two best young players in Myers & Solarte with team-friendly deals, then grab the best right-handed hitter in the NL who has 5 years of affordable team control, without blowing your budget? The Padres OD payroll is now ~ $75M. AJP is the best GM in MLB because he works most completely with his organization, from ownership all the way down to his scouts, coaches & players. He even listens to his fans. He sees the big picture (in English & Spanish) better than the rest, and therefore anticipates a situation in which the Padres are going to have maximum leverage to improve themselves, and then he seizes the day.
The Crafty Spider
A crafty spider had very little, so he began spinning a web. He took great care in spinning, making his ties strong and using only the best silk. His web was meager to start, only able to trap smaller prey, but it worked well and consistently nourished the crafty spider. As the crafty spider began to grow in size, it kept spinning more web. Other spiders would look on and remark, “Why do you need such a big fancy web, you’ll never catch anything that large!” The crafty spider ignored all this and quietly and went on spinning. Night & day; day & night. Spinning, spinning, spinning. All kinds of webs were spun; webs that hooked & snared, webs that linked & held stuff together, webs that were shiny & beautiful. Eventually these links not only provided structure & support for the crafty spider, but also became webs of enchantment & deception for others– filled with pitfalls, persuasions & slippery slopes.
Within this larger house, was another spider who possessed one of the juiciest specimens [!] in the entire domain. This delightful morsel contained enough nutritive value to satisfy even the most ravenous appetite, but it came with a limited no-trade clause. This selected against the fiercest competitors within the species, including the dreaded Yankee spider and the hated Red Sox spider– most-toxic & desperately in search of a new Papi. These predators could only watch through the window with snapping jaws, as hunger pangs gnawed at their bellies, as only six lucky spiders would have the opportunity to wrap their legs around this bountiful feast.
The day came when the possessing spider realized that much of his web needed rebuilding. The section of his web with Ryan Braun was strong, but too much of the remaining structure was incomplete & weak. It had also become a luxury which was too costly to maintain. This spider needed fresh raw materials to build a better web, but where would he find them? He visited the webs of five available spiders, but found them to be in a state of disrepair and mostly barren. Some even looked pitifully worse that his own, while the remaining webs simply didn’t have enough space available for such a catch. Until the day finally came when the possessing spider had to bring his prize into the crafty spider’s web, at which point they were immediately caught.