Ryan Braun is suspended for the rest of the year, which means a 65 game suspension. Those 65 games will cost him about $3.5 million.
It’s an absolute steal for Braun, methinks.
Partially because of what he could have faced. If you believe the reports which have flown hither and tither for the past few weeks, Major League Baseball was bound to bring the hammer down on Braun. Maybe 100 games! Maybe life! I doubt it actually would have come to that, and if it did, Braun could have fought hard against it, even if it was only to try to force some compromise. But now he doesn’t do that and Major League Baseball gets a pretty big head on a pretty tall pike.
Why didn’t he do that? Probably because the league had him dead to rights. But there are two other reasons why this works out as the best case scenario in what is overall a bad situation for the former NL MVP.
First, it’s a nice time for a break. Braun’s season has been riddled with injuries and the Brewers season has turned into a pretty depressing slog. The team wasn’t going to do anything this year and Braun was going to probably have nagging injuries which would keep him from doing anything to cut out and put in the personal scrapbook. Now, with his suspension limited to one season, he can get healthy, take the winter off and come back fresh in spring training 2014. It’s a win for him in that narrow regard and a win for Brewers fans who don’t have to face parts of multiple seasons without their best players.
Financially, though, now is the time for Braun to take his medicine. People may not realize it, but Braun is a pretty low-paid superstar at the moment. His 2013 salary: about $10 million. That’s part of a structured long term extension he signed in 2011 which has things really starting to escalate from 2016 through 2020, when he’ll make around $19 million. Sixty-five games at his rate right now is way better than 50 games — or less — next year.
Obviously this is not any sort of actual win for Braun. He’s suspended and his name is Mudd for the rest of his career. But he’ll be back to being a regular baseball player next season. And a highly paid one at that.
MASN’s Roch Kubatko is reporting that the Orioles have “some level” of interest in free agent outfielder Denard Span. The Nationals did not make a $15.8 million qualifying offer to Span, which means he doesn’t come attached with draft pick compensation unlike other free agents such as Alex Gordon and Dexter Fowler.
Span, who turns 32 in February, hit a solid .301/.365/.431 with five home runs, 22 RBI, 38 runs scored, and 11 stolen bases, but took only 275 plate appearances due to back and hip injuries. He underwent season-ending hip surgery in September but is expected to be ready to participate in spring training.
The Mets and Royals have also reportedly shown interest in Span’s services.
ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that the Blue Jays are on the prowl for relievers with closing experience. Ryan Madson is one of the names on their list.
Madson, 35, had a career rebirth with the Royals in 2015. He signed a minor league deal with the club that paid him a salary of $850,000 if he made it back to the majors. Due to a plethora of arm injuries, Madson hadn’t pitched in the majors since Game 5 of the 2011 NLDS against the Cardinals as a member of the Phillies. For the Royals, he wound up becoming a crucial member of the bullpen, finishing with a 2.13 ERA and a 58/14 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings.
While Madson allowed five runs in 8 1/3 post-season innings, he pitched well when it mattered most, as he hurled three scoreless frames in three appearances in the World Series against the Mets.
Madson has closing experience, with 55 career saves. 32 of them came in 2011 when he took over the closer’s role from Brad Lidge.
After signing Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ, and trading for Jesse Chavez, the Jays have bolstered their rotation but it was reported on Saturday that interim GM Tony LaCava is still focused on upgrading the pitching staff.
ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that free agent pitcher Trevor Cahill is looking for a one-year, bounce-back deal. The Pirates are one of the potential teams he is considering.
It’s no surprise that the Pirates are on Cahill’s list. Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage has garnered a reputation as a miracle worker after turning around the careers of a handful of pitchers, including Edinson Volquez, Francisco Liriano, and J.A. Happ. Volquez parlayed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Pirates into a two-year, $20 million deal with the Royals last December. Liriano signed with the Pirates on a one-year, $1 million contract and turned that into a three-year, $39 million deal. Happ, dealt to the Pirates from the Mariners at the most recent trade deadline, just signed a three-year, $39 million contract with the Blue Jays.
Cahill, once a highly-regarded pitching prospect, has scuffled over parts of seven seasons in the majors. The 27-year-old owns a career 4.13 ERA with a 754/427 K/BB ratio in 1,083 2/3 innings. Cahill had some brief success after signing with the Cubs as a free agent in mid-August, compiling a 2.12 ERA in 11 appearances out of the bullpen.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the Blue Jays have narrowed their search for a new general manager down to two candidates: current interim GM Tony LaCava, and Indians vice president of player personnel Ross Atkins. Former Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos resigned last month.
LaCava was promoted to interim GM on November 2 and has already made a handful of moves along with new president Mark Shapiro. The club acquired Jesse Chavez in a trade and signed pitchers Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ to multi-year deals.
Atkins worked under Shapiro in the Indians organization for 15 seasons, so it is no surprise that he is a finalist for the open GM position.