Talks first heated up during the August waiver period last season and centered around a potential deal involving Yasiel Puig. Fast forward to April of 2017, and we get this update from the Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo in his must-read Sunday Notes column ...
We've confirmed through major league sources that the Dodgers and Brewers have kept in touch on a potential Braun deal. The Dodgers' weak link is their outfield, and they have not been swinging the bats very well, hitting just .238 through Thursday.
Presently, the Dodgers have Andre Ethier and Franklin Gutierrez on the disabled list. However, even after those guys get healthy, the Dodgers, who are chasing a fifth straight NL West title, may prefer to go quality over quantity. Hence, their interest in Braun. This time around, though, it seems unlikely that the Dodgers would be willing to include Puig in such a deal. He's off to a hot start, and at age 26 he has near- and long-term value to a Dodgers team that has legitimate designs on the World Series.
When it comes to a potential Braun-to-L.A. deal, the clock may be ticking. As MLB.com's Jon Morosi recently reported, any trade involving Braun may soon get more complicated ...
By the terms of Braun's no-trade clause, the Dodgers are one of six teams that can acquire him without his permission. That is due to change on May 24, when Braun will attain 10 years of Major League service -- and the complete no-trade protection that comes with 10-and-5 rights.
Given how much power Braun will have over any trade beginning on May 24, that's probably a more meaningful deadline than the July 31 non-waiver deadline. In other words, something could develop quickly, and as Morosi notes Braun's limited no-trade clause doesn't apply to the Dodgers.
As for Braun, he's in his age-33 season, and he's off to a typical start in 2017: a 132 OPS+ and three homers in nine games through Saturday. When healthy, he's been one of the most reliable power hitters in all of baseball, and he hasn't shown much in the way of skills decline since he's entered his thirties. As for his contract, he's still owed a minimum of around $75 million, and if the Brewers want to get any kind of high-ceiling package in return, then they'll need to eat a good chunk of that salary obligation.
From the Dodgers' standpoint, they'd need to be confident that it makes sense to dislodge Andrew Toles in favor of Braun. That's the likely path for Braun, as L.A. probably isn't going to reduce Puig's role in favor of Braun. As for Toles, the decision isn't as easy as you might think. Toles is 24 and has done nothing but hit at the major-league level (135 OPS+), albeit across a very limited sample of 147 career plate appearances. Toles backs that up with strong minor-league numbers, and unlike Braun he's also capable of manning all three outfield positions. However, that same flexibility may allow the Dodgers to deploy Toles as a heavily used fourth outfielder. He also bats from the left side, which means he could pair nicely in occasional spot duty with the right-handed-hitting Puig and Braun. Toles is also a nifty hedge in case Puig's numbers go south or injuries strike. In other words, Braun would create a glut, but it would be a workable glut (let's lay aside Ethier's eventual return), provided Dave Roberts finds steady ABs for Toles.
Ryan Braun, Dodger? Maybe, people. And maybe soon.