Ryan Braun has been a fixture on the Milwaukee Brewers roster for nearly a decade and a half. That might be about to change. The Brewers declined their part of a mutual option in Braun's contract, deciding they'd rather pay him a $4 million buyout than the $15 million he would've received otherwise, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Tom Haudricourt. (Braun was included in the MLB Players Association's list of free agents, suggesting the move is official.)
The move doesn't come as a surprise. The Brewers, as with most every other team, figure to proceed in a fiscally conservative manner this winter because of the revenue they lost during the pandemic. Braun's performance this season didn't help to change their minds, either.
Braun, who will turn 37 in mid-November, had the first sub-replacement level season of his career, according to Baseball-Reference's calculations. His .233/.281/.488 slash line in 39 games translated to a 101 OPS -- he'd previously checked in below 110 just once, that coming back in 2018.
Braun had his exit velocity drop several ticks, while his pull percentage and launch angle increased, suggesting that perhaps he was overcompensating for decaying bat speed. He also had his walk rate dip as he became more aggressive at the dish, particularly when it came to expanding his strike zone.
If this is the end for Braun, either in Milwaukee or in whole, then he'll finish with 46.7 Wins Above Replacement, 352 home runs, and a 134 OPS+. He won the 2007 Rookie of the Year Award, the 2011 Most Valuable Player Award, and he made six All-Star Games.
For as skilled as Braun always was as a hitter, his legacy was tarnished when he was suspended for using performance-enhancing drugs. He later admitted that he had lied when he petitioned an earlier positive test, one that saw him point fingers at the test collector by accusing him of being anti-Semitic, according to Jeff Passan, now of ESPN.com.