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Should Mets Go for Ryan Braun?

Two recent mentions in the Daily News suggest the Brewers could look to unload PED prince Ryan Braun. If that is the case, should the Mets make a play for him?

ryan braun
If Ryan Braun is available, should Mets try to get him?

It should be noted up front that the Brewers have not said publicly that they are looking to trade Braun. But by all accounts he is the most hated person in Milwaukee since, well, uh… That’s the point — people in Milwaukee do not hate anyone, so the fact that he is apparently such a pariah makes trade speculation a valid exercise.

Obviously Ryan Braun comes with as much baggage as an A380. Given the history and evidence it is safe to assume that Braun has been juicing for his entire career. So if he is a product of steroids, why would anyone take a chance on him?

When Mark McGwire finally came clean about his PED use, he downplayed the role it had in his career, saying steroids cannot suddenly give you the ability to hit a baseball. That, he said, comes from God. McGwire was right, but steroids can help you hit a ball harder and farther, resulting in more hits and home runs. So steroids will turn a mediocre hitter into a good hitter, a good hitter into a great hitter, a great hitter into an elite hitter.

Ryan Braun has been an elite hitter thus far in his career — a .312 batting average, with about 35 homers and 110 RBIs per year. So evidently he has that God-given talent to hit a baseball. Without PEDs he is likely to still be a great hitter. His numbers would probably dip to around 25 home runs, 90-100 RBIs and a .290-.300 BA. That’s still All-Star caliber.

His salary is another problem. Ryan Braun is due $127 million through 2020 (including a $4 million buyout in 2021). That comes out to a little more $18 million per season, which actually isn’t bad considering guys like Jacoby Ellsbury and Shin-Soo Choo are likely to exceed that figure in free agency over the next few months.

But that is a big risk to take on someone who has apparently built his career on steroids. It is especially a big risk to take for the Mets and their limited budget.

At some point the Mets will have to take a risk, and I think this would be one worth taking. As I said above, I think Braun will continue to produce at a great, if not elite, level. And $18 million would be a bargain if Braun somehow can get back to his lofty numbers.

But do the Mets have what it takes in terms of players to trade for Braun? The Brewers have a hole at first base and reportedly like Ike Davis for some reason, so let’s start with him.

The Mets really cannot offer Milwaukee a replacement outfielder, so perhaps Daniel Murphy will do. However, the Brewers do not appear to have a need for him. They have a youngster at second base named Scooter Gennett, who hit .324 in limited at bats as a rookie and seems ready to push Rickie Weeks and his $11 million salary out the door. The Brewers also have $16 million tied up in 35-year-old third baseman Aramis Ramirez, so they can’t put Murphy there. But for these purposes, let’s leave Murphy in the deal, since it is the only quality bat the Mets have to offer.

But that obviously is not enough to get this done. The Brewers, like every team, need young starting pitching. The Mets have a surplus here.

By all accounts Noah Syndergaard is untouchable, and if he’s as good as everyone says he is, he probably should be. The only way Syndergaard should be traded is for a sure thing, like a Giancarlo Stanton (who is not going anywhere).

The Mets would almost certainly part with Rafael Montero, but I suspect if the Brewers were to take a prospect, they would want better than Montero.

Zack Wheeler? That’s a tough one. Wheeler looked good in his half season with the Mets, but he did not set the world on fire. To bring back someone like Braun, it would be something to think about.

But maybe the Brewers would not want a prospect at all; perhaps they would want a proven pitcher, so that would be Dillon Gee or Jonathon Niese. I think the Mets would absolutely include Gee, but they would be hesitant to deal Niese. That would be a mistake.

As good as Niese has looked at times, I don’t think he will ever be an ace. He is a number two at best, probably a number three starter, and I do not think trading him would be a terrible sacrifice.

The Mets are going to have to deal some of their starting pitchers at some point unless they plan on going with an eight-man rotation. If they can get Ryan Braun, I say do it now.

Another advantage of a Davis/Murphy/Niese trade is that it would take an estimated $14 million off the books for the Mets, replaced by Braun who will make just $10 million in 2014 (his extension doesn’t kick in until 2016). So in the short term the Mets would get some salary relief.

But is that even enough to land Ryan Braun? Maybe not. The Mets might have to include a couple of more prospects, or maybe even Wheeler instead of Niese. It all depends on how badly the Brewers want to dump him. But if they do, Flushing would be a great landing spot for him. New York fans are quite forgiving, and if Ryan Braun can play well, no one will care about his checkered past.

8 thoughts on “Should Mets Go for Ryan Braun?

  • Hi Mark, you’d be a great sci-fi/fantasy writer.

    I read an interesting interview a while back with Hank Aaron who discussed PEDs. Basically his take was that the real advantage of steroids was not the strength factors, but the recuperative value. They help you from wearing down during the long season, thus you can perform at “fresh” levels throughout the year.

    Interesting take on Braun. I think the Mets may be more inclined to part with Parnell in some sort of package – once he is proven healthy. I can see the Mets going with a Hawkins/Black/Montero type of bullpen combo.

    I’d love to see some sort of package centered around a Parnell for Trumbo swap. Angels need a closer – Mets have one with a reasonable contract; Mets need a bat with pop – Angels have one with a reasonable contract.

  • Met Fan 4 Ever

    One thing we need to remove from our vocabulary are the words “the Mets and their limited budget”. How can a team owned by billionaires in the largest market in the known world have a limited budget? I know they keep passing that particular flask around but we have to stop drinking it! If the team is hemorrhaging money, it’s because of mismanagement. It takes a team to bring in fans. Putting a team built mostly of replacement players out there on the field is not going to generate revenue. The Coupons need to take that clue from the Yankees.

    That said, it could be a deal on the caliber of bringing Carter or Piazza to the team – the catalyst guy who adds to what we already have to give the team a major charge. I’d keep Murph, though, and see if Flores might get it done with Ike and Neise. Maybe they wouldn’t be averse to us taking some more of their salary off their hands, as well. Maybe we do throw in Murph if they’d include Weeks. Maybe even take Ramirez and put him at 1B. We’d have to sacifice more to get him, but Milwaukee would get a ton of salary relief, and we’d have a lineup looking like:

    Lagares CF
    Young LF
    Wright 3B
    Braun RF
    Ramirez 1B
    Weeks 2B
    d’Arnaud C
    Tejada SS

    If the team did nothing but pull off that blockbuster.

  • Hi – Mets Fan 4 Ever,

    Tejada??????? You lost me right there. Just a question but what is wrong with that kid – Tovar – that they brought up at the end of the year? Why are they down on him? Is he not even in the equation?

  • Mark Berman

    I agree, Mets Fan, it is pretty crazy that a New York team has such a “limited budget,” but this is the reality, unfortunately. With that in mind, as far as your proposed lineup, I don’t think the Mets would take on the $26 million Ramirez and Weeks are owed.

    And JJ, I agree with you about Trumbo. He is a proven home run hitter which is obviously what the Mets need. But the Mets reportedly don’t like him for some reason.

  • Met Fan 4 Ever

    I just plugged Tejeda in there. Personally I hope he is gone next year.

  • I probably should’ve stopped reading after the “But by all accounts he is the most hated person in Milwaukee” part, because it’s simply not true and pretty much invalidates everything else here.

  • Mark Berman

    Mad — I’m just going by media reports that I have read that say he is despised in Milwaukee.

  • George

    I think Braun is who the Mets are going to get as well. Maybe the Brewers and Mets create a blockbuster with Segura getting thrown in pot.
    It really doesn’t matter what the Mets do this year or really even next year. If Harvey didn’t go down, I would have said 2015. Knowing it takes a full year to recover from his surgery, it becomes 2016. That is the year you will see the Mets throwing big money to fill whatever holes they have at that time. The Mets know in 2016 they will have Noah, Harvey, Wheeler with Pawlecki, Nimmo, Smith, and the 2nd baseman we got from the Pirates. So its 2016 which is why i am not even upset if we don’t do much this year..

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