This summer could be the perfect time for the Brewers to trade Ryan Braun, writes ESPN’s Buster Olney. The 32-year-old will gain 10-and-5 rights early next season, allowing him to veto any trade. Braun can already block trades to 23 teams, with the D-backs, Angels, Dodgers, Marlins, Padres and Giants representing the only teams to which he can be traded without his consent. Olney spoke to a number of executives and evaluators regarding Braun, and the general consensus was that his heightened 2016 play has made the once-near-impossible thought of a trade much more plausible. Braun’s contact rate is the best of his career, and he’s enjoying the second-lowest swinging-strike and out-of-zone swing rates of his career. One evaluator noted to Olney that Braun has learned to lay off the high fastball that was once a pitch with which he could be put away in two-strike counts. An executive from another club opined that the Brewers will still have to eat a considerable amount of Braun’s salary to facilitate a deal, however; by my calculation he’s owed $90.85MM through 2020, including the remaining money on this year’s $19MM salary and the $4MM buyout of his 2021 option.
More on the Brewers and their division…
- Left-hander Will Smith will throw off a mound today for the first time since tearing the LCL in his right knee in a freak Spring Training accident (while taking off his shoe), reports Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Smith, whose workouts to this point have included running on an anti-gravity treadmill, is hoping to avoid surgery and will begin a throwing program if today’s mound session goes well. However, Haudricourt notes that if he experiences problems, surgery could be the ultimate outcome anyway. Smith, 26, came to Spring Training with a chance to become the Brewers’ closer, but right-hander Jeremy Jeffress has seized that role with eight saves and a 2.63 ERA in 13 2/3 innings thus far.
- Cardinals outfielder Randal Grichuk spoke with MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch about the 2013 trade that brought him from Anaheim to St. Louis and some of the struggles he endured with the Angels. “I got injured so much in that organization, that I felt like I got put on the back burner,” Grichuk said of the Angels. “They didn’t really expect much out of me at that point. I definitely think that this trade helped rejuvenate my career. I’m definitely thankful for it.” As Langosch notes, living in the shadow of Mike Trout was also a difficult task. The two were inevitably compared to one another as they were selected with back-to-back picks in the first round, both play center field and were even born just six days apart. Grichuk and Trout remain close, and Trout told Langosch that he’s happy to see his friend succeeding, even if it’s in another organization.
- Waiver claim Dan Straily has been an early success story for the Reds, writes Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer. The right-hander has benefited from pitching coach Mark Riggins, who taught him a grip for a two-seam fastball with which Straily is comfortable. Straily tells Buchanan that he’d never used a two-seamer much in the past because he hasn’t been successful with the pitch, but his new grip is helping him keep left-handed opponents off balance. Interestingly, president of baseball operations Walt Jocketty tells Buchanan that his team actually got some trade inquiries on Straily earlier this year but elected to hang onto him. “We felt we needed him more than what we could get in return for him,” said Jocketty. Straily has walked 10 of the 66 lefties he’s faced, so he could still stand to improve his control, but he’s locked down a rotation spot for the time being with a 3.47 ERA in 36 1/3 innings. And, as Buchanan points out, he has four more years of club control remaining beyond the 2016 campaign if he can continue his success.