Mike Petriello, an author for ESPN Insider and Fangraphs, believes the Brewers would be better served by trading the tainted but talented Ryan Braun than they would be if they were to keep and have him contribute to the crappy teams they are likely to field in the near future. The Pirates have a need for a player with Braun's skills, as we know. Prospects would make the trade happen:
While the Mets are often mentioned when [Braun's] name comes up, it's actually teams like Pittsburgh, Kansas City and Seattle that would immediately be able to get into the game for a talent that usually eludes them on the open market. The Pirates and Royals desperately need a power-hitting corner outfielder as they attempt to capitalize on their breakthrough 2013 seasons, while Seattle is constantly looking for offense and has money to spend. (Braun has a no-trade clause, but those are easily negotiated around.)
The Pirates, Royals and Mariners all have the high-end prospects that the Brewers desperately need, and a Braun trade would help jump-start the rebuilding process while ridding Milwaukee of a PR problem.
With 2013 in the books as a smashing and surprising success, the Pittsburgh Pirates can't be conservative and wait only on the fruits of a talented farm system. Knowing that part of the 2013 story came from unsustainable performances by players who can't be expected to repeat them, the time is finally right for general manager Neal Huntington to get out there this winter and make some moves to keep his team squarely in the mix in 2014, especially now that national eyes are finally on his club and free agents see the Pirates as a contender, not just a place to land.
Steamer has Braun generating 4.1 Wins in 2014, his age-30 season. But Braun has yet to begin to cash the checks from his mostly back-loaded contract extension. He'll be expensive for a team like the Pirates. Braun also might prove to be a PR fiasco for any team that trades for him, the Pirates especially so given the hatred many Pirates fans feel for Braun. The upshot: Braun may not be worth his check in a few years.
Braun, like Giancarlo Stanton, would likely provide baseball value in the short-term. Unlike Stanton, who would soon leave the Pirates as a free agent, Braun would likely remain a Pirate for the better part of a decade. And, of course, we should expect his skills to deteriorate just as the skills of Alex Rodriguez, Albert Pujols and others decayed when they reached their early 30s. Eventually, his mostly back-loaded contract may become untradeable. Braun could become the next Jason Kendall or Alfonso Soriano.
Just say no, Neal, when asked.