The Milwaukee Brewers declined a mutual option on the contract of former National League Most Valuable Player Ryan Braun on Thursday, potentially putting an end to his career.
Instead of paying Braun's scheduled $15 million salary in 2021, the Brewers bought out the deal for a $4 million.
Braun, who turns 37 next month, has enjoyed a decorated tenure, winning NL Rookie of the Year in 2007, NL MVP in 2011 and earning six trips to the All-Star Game.
However, the franchise leader in home runs is coming off arguably the worst of his 14 major league seasons. Braun posted career lows in batting average (.233) and OPS (.769), though he did hit eight homers and drive in 26 runs in 39 games during the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign. He was limited because of nagging back issues and often limited to designated hitter duty after playing mostly third base and the corner outfield spots during his career.
His career also was marred by links to illegal performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs). Braun had a positive drug test in 2011 overturned due to a technicality, when he called into question the actions of the test collector. Two years later, he was implicated in the Biogenesis scandal and eventually admitted to using PEDs. He wound up serving a 65-game suspension.
Braun's plans for 2021 and beyond are unclear. In January he hinted that the 2020 season may be his last, but with such a reduced season because of the coronavirus pandemic, he spoke multiple times in the regular season about possibly putting off retirement.
"I'll take my time in making a decision," Braun told reporters in September. "I'll sit down with my family and see where we're at in a couple of months. It's not a decision that I anticipate making right away. I'll take some time to see where I'm at physically, see where things stand baseball-specifically and in the world at large before I make a decision about that."
Milwaukee's first-round pick (fifth overall) in the 2005 draft, Braun owns 352 career home runs while ranking second in club history with 408 doubles, 1,154 RBIs and 809 extra-base hits in 1,766 games. He is third all time for the Brewers with 1,080 runs, 1,963 hits and 216 stolen bases.
--Field Level Media