This lack of interest from the Dodgers could be the blessing the Washington Nationals need. It could allow them to snatch Braun away while nobody is looking.
Is it really possible we see the Milwaukee Brewers‘ slugger join Washington sometime soon?
It would seem that finding a place for Braun to play right now would be difficult. Indeed, it is. The Nationals’ outfield is full. However, by midseason, space could open up.
Jayson Werth is injury prone and another year older. Expecting him to avoid the disabled list is a tall order. You’d have better a better chance asking him to shave every morning.
If Werth does see significant time on the disabled list, it’s very reasonable for the Nationals to find a big name replacement — seemingly the best way for Braun to end up in Washington.
In terms of payroll, this is only an issue for Washington in 2017. Beyond, Braun is only replacing what the Nationals will have available after Werth leaves. Their salaries this year are near matches. Werth will take home $21 million with Braun set to make $20 million. It’s quite preposterous considering their respective production, but that’s currently the way the contracts stand.
These two salaries are important. When Werth leaves next winter, Braun would already be on the roster. There would be no search for a new left fielder. Another benefit, Braun’s salary actually trends downwards following the 2018 season. At less than $20 million, the Nationals would have a top corner outfielder for several more years.
A significant injury to Bryce Harper would also create a need for Braun. In a situation where Adam Eaton is hurt, the Nationals are more prone to find a center fielder. However, they could always move Harper there and use either Braun or Werth in right field.
The need to trade for Braun should anyone suffer a significant injury is due to the Nationals’ weak bench. Current outfield options include Chris Heisey, Clint Robinson, and Michael Taylor. Washington could also move Trea Turner there, but this leaves a hole at shortstop.
Probably the biggest obstacle the Nationals face in acquiring Braun is their lack of desirable minor league talent. Braun is no longer a superstar yet remains productive. Last year, he put up his best numbers since 2012 when he was MVP runner-up. All doubts regarding his abilities can now be set aside. A trade for him is more than a salary dump, as he can clearly still hit.
Seeing Braun suit up for the Nationals remains a possibility in the future. At the present time, any outfielders the Nationals add will have a role on the bench.
Any big trades for this team to bolster the lineup are over for now. Come July, this may not be the case. Braun in a Nationals’ uniform, while a dream, remains a logical possibility a few months from now.