8:06pm: The Brewers have declined the option, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel relays.
7:57pm: Longtime Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun is now a free agent, according to the MLBPA. That suggests the Brewers have turned down their half of a $15MM mutual option for 2021 in favor of a $4MM buyout.
Because of Braun’s recent decline, it’s no surprise that Milwaukee is going this route. Nevertheless, it could bring an end to a fruitful Brewers tenure for Braun. He joined the organization as the fifth overall pick in 2005 and proceeded to turn into one of the most productive players in the history of the franchise.
From his debut in 2007 up until this past season, Braun slashed .296/.358/.532 with 352 home runs, 216 stolen bases and 43.9 fWAR over 7,340 plate appearances. Braun also racked up six All-Star nods, a Rookie of the Year and the 2011 NL MVP Award along the way, though the latter accomplishment has been tainted because of his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal.
Major League Baseball suspended Braun for 65 games in 2013 after finding that he tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs. The ban cast a pall on what was an excellent career to that point, but Braun has been mostly productive at the plate since then. Injuries have taken their toll in recent years, though, and Braun is now coming off the worst offensive season of his career. The 36-year-old ended 2020 as a .233/.281/.488 hitter with eight home runs in 141 plate appearances, and he racked up almost as many appearances as a designated hitter (16) as he did an outfielder (20).
Braun said as recently as July that he’d like to continue his career in 2021, but that was before his troubles this year. He’ll now have to decide whether to continue in baseball, but if the universal DH doesn’t stick around next season, it won’t do Braun any favors should he seek another contract. Braun’s next deal (if there is one) won’t be especially lucrative.