Last week the Los Angeles Dodgers almost traded right-fielder Yasiel Puig to the Milwaukee Brewers for left-fielder Ryan Braun. While the trade did not work out mainly due to time constraints, it is something that should be revisited in the offseason.
Once a player is claimed off of waivers the two teams then have 48 hours to negotiate a trade. Unfortunately for the Brewers and Dodgers, 48 hours simply wasn’t enough to work out what would have been a surprising and huge, blockbuster trade.
Ryan Braun is a six-time all-star and former 2007 NL ROY and 2011 NL MVP. While Braun has a limited no-trade clause in his contract, the Dodgers are not on his no-trade list and although this is Braun’s tenth season in the major leagues all have which have been played with the Brewers he does not earn his 10/5 rights until next May (for a brief introduction to how 10/5 rights work click here). Basically, Braun would not have been able to veto the trade.
Braun has since said that while he would like to remain in Milwaukee, he wouldn’t be completely opposed to a trade if it is what is best for the Brewers. Moving Braun would be good for the Brewers as they are in rebuilding mode and are looking for prospects and younger players to fill up their roster.
The Dodgers, on the other hand, are looking to move Puig who they consider to be a “problem player” mainly due to his behavior in the clubhouse as well as away from the ballclub, not to mention that his numbers have been on the decline since his all-star season in 2014.
So why would the Brewers want Puig? Puig is just 25 and there is every reason to believe that he is both on his way back to being the player he once was. He’s also shown signs that he’s putting his selfish and defiant ways behind him.
Puig was recently demoted by the Dodgers to Triple-A for a month, which has not only appeared to help his swing now that he has returned to the big league club, but also his attitude. Plus, Puig’s already five years into a seven-year $42 million deal and that is much cheaper than what the Brewers’ owe Braun.
Braun is currently signed through 2020 with Milwaukee with a mutual option for 2021. He still has approximately $80 million left on his five-year $105 million contract. While the Brewers would likely have to absorb some of that money, it’s a number that the Dodgers, unlike many other teams, can afford.
Braun has also had on-field troubles of his own involving performance enhancing drugs (PEDs). He was suspended in July 2013 for 65 games for testing positive for using PEDs and has since admitted that he used the drugs during his 2011 MVP season. Still that now seems to be a non-issue, at least for both the Brewers (who signed him to his big contract after the scandal) or the Dodgers, mainly because Braun has proven he is a great player with or without PEDs.
The Dodgers wanted a “better player” than Puig if they were to trade him and the Brewers can provide one in Braun. Braun is currently hitting .307/.368/.539 with 25 home runs, 75 RBI and 14 stolen bases. Puig, who hit .296 in 2014, is now hitting just .265/.328/.399 with eight homers, 37 RBI and only two stolen bases. Braun would definitely be an upgrade from Puig.
However, as noted the two teams were unable to work out a deal in the short period of time allowed and nothing changed, with the exception of Puig re-joining the Dodgers’ big league club.
Still, this trade should be revisited once the offseason arrives. The Brewers need to make their club younger. Twenty-five-year-old Puig is much younger than the 33-year-old Braun and much cheaper. He’s shown signs that he can be a key player on any club and is slowly beginning to move towards his numbers from two years ago.
Braun is simply a better player than Puig. He’s proven to be a superior player, despite the PED scandal, and could easily be afforded by the Dodgers who have the largest payroll in baseball.
Plus, if they revisit the trade in the offseason, before next May, Buan will not be able to have a change of heart and block the trade. It would be a good move for both teams as each would be getting what they want and need in a new outfielder.
Hopefully we will see this trade made over the offseason but until then we are just left to wonder.