Should the Brewers cut ties with Ryan Braun?

Denis Poroy

Okay, so Ryan Braun's been exposed as maybe not Team America's very best soldier. We get that. But he's still the Brewers' Opening Day left fielder next spring, right? Not if the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's editorial board has anything to say about it:

Ryan Braun has to go.

Milwaukee Brewers owner Mark Attanasio has an opportunity to make the most powerful statement any owner has ever made about what the game of baseball should be and what it should not be. Attanasio can make a statement that would reverberate across the many other venues of professional sports infected by the plague of doping.

The Brewers should end their relationship with Braun. Only then can the organization "move on."

That's just the beginning. The editorial goes on from there at great length, but you've heard it all before: Braun cheated, Braun's a big fat liar, what shall we tell the children, blahblahblah-blahblah. I'm not saying none of those points are valid -- most are, and some probably are not -- but you've heard them all before, and anyway I'm not really interested in defending Braun, who seems to deserve most of the opprobrium he's been getting.

What's interesting to me is the notion that the Brewers should quit Ryan Braun.

Should they, really? And what might that look like, exactly?

Even theoretically, there seem to be just three ways in which the Brewers might "end their relationship with Braun":

1. Release him
2. Trade him
3. Void his contract

Taking those in reverse order ...

There is absolutely no precedent for voiding a player's contract for moral, legal, or disciplinary reasons. Yes, the standard player contract contains, or did for many years, a "morals clause" ... but because it was habitually unenforced, it became unenforceable. If you could do it, teams would have been doing it already. A few have tried -- notably, the Rockies with Denny Neagle -- and all have failed.

The Brewers could try to trade Braun. We know he'll still have plenty of value next winter; we know this because we saw what happened when Melky Cabrera went on the market last winter, and Braun's a hell of a lot better than Melky Cabrera.

Two concerns.

One, Braun does have some say in the matter. I'm not exactly sure how much, because I don't know if his full no-trade protection applies now, or doesn't kick in until 2016, when his contract extension begins. But he's got, at the least, limited protection in the form of a dozen or a half-dozen teams to which he can't be traded. Which obviously wouldn't make trading impossible; just a bit more complicated.

Two, if you're going to trade Ryan Braun, this is the wrong time to trade him. If you're going to trade him, you want to trade him when he's playing well and his value's high. Not when he's not playing at all and his value's at its lowest. If the Brewers were to trade Braun this winter, they might get ... what? Maybe 75 cents on the dollar? That's not really good business.

Ah, but business seems beside the point here. The Journal-Sentinel, it seems, doesn't care a jot or a jit about business, or winning. If "moving on" means flat-out releasing Braun, then so be it. Cracking eggs and making omelets and all that.

Let's be clear about something, though: If the Milwaukee Brewers release Ryan Braun, they'll still have to pay him $127 million, for which they'll receive ... what, exactly? The plaudits of a dying newspaper's editorial board? They'll also have a hole in left field big enough to pilot an ore freighter through.

Look, it's bad enough the Brewers committed that much money for that many years; as we've seen, these sorts of contracts almost never work out in the long run. In this case, it's not really working out in the short term, either. But the Brewers have enough problems already. They certainly don't need to spend $127 million over the next eight years on someone who's actually playing for another team.

Because there would be another team. Ryan Braun will play baseball somewhere, for someone, regardless of what the Brewers do. He's a good player, and by most accounts a good teammate, and that's an irresistible combination for ... oh, let's assume for 30 out of Major League Baseball's 30 teams.

At this particular moment, I wouldn't be thrilled if Braun played for my team. But as Grant points out, actual Brewers fans will get over this quickly (if they haven't already). About editorial boards, I cannot say for sure. But I won't be surprised if Braun outlasts them all.

For much more about Braun and the Brewers, please visit SB Nation's Brew Crew Ball.

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