Signing Ryan Braun to a minor league deal would be a low-risk deal for the SF Giants with a potentially high reward.
Ryan Braun has undeniably had a strong big-league career. After spending the last fourteen years playing for the Milwaukee Brewers, though, he is available on the open market as a free agent. While Braun is a shell of the player he once was and has his share of Performance Enhancing Drug controversies, the SF Giants should try to sign the veteran to a minor-league deal.
If there’s one thing that Farhan Zaidi, Scott Harris, and Gabe Kapler like, it’s flexibility. Braun provides that. His ability to play first base and both outfield corners could make him a valuable bench option and solid insurance for someone like Austin Slater, who has dealt with his share of injuries.
Over his career, Braun has a .318/.389/.600 slash line against left-handed pitching. This could go a long way given the fact that the presumptive top two teams in the National League West each have plenty of left-handed starters. The Dodgers already have Clayton Kershaw and will more than likely get David Price back next season. Then, there’s San Diego who will soon have top pitching prospect, MacKenzie Gore, to join the recently acquired Blake Snell.
In a late-game situation, Braun could have plenty of value. After all, he has plenty of power if the Giants need a home run with a good enough swing that can also get a simple single if needed. This could be important given the three-batter minimum that’s still in place heading into 2021. With the designated hitter going away next season, Braun would a viable option for a double switch. He won’t kill the Giants if they put him in left field.
Then there’s the fact that he’d add a much-needed veteran presence to a relatively young outfield group. Sure, both Alex Dickerson and Mike Yastrzemski are older outfielders. But neither have extensive big-league experience.
Players like Slater and Darin Ruf may have similar profiles to Braun, but neither of them shares the six-time All-Star’s resume. It’s hard to imagine Braun, now 37-years old, garnering much interest in free agency and a simple one-year minor league deal with an early-season opt-out if he does not make the MLB roster would be an easy way to get him into Spring Training. From there, the Giants could see if they could help him rekindle some of his peak performance.
Ryan Braun may not fit an obvious need on the SF Giants roster, but no matter how you slice it, signing him would come with little risk and a potentially massive reward.