It's easy to understand the outrage in Milwaukee these days, but getting rid of Braun simply doesn't make any sense from a business or baseball perspective.
No matter what you think of Braun, he is still a star talent, and I know that pretty much every general manager views him that way. He's one of the best all-around players in the game, and with all due respect to Carlos Gomez and Jean Segura, he is the team's most valuable asset.
In fact, if through some loophole Braun were magically made a free agent this winter, he would rival Robinson Cano for the title of best player on the market. He probably wouldn't get as many years as Cano for political reasons -- saying you signed a PED user to a seven-year deal is a tough sell to the fans -- but he'd do just as well in terms of average annual value. If I were sitting in the GM chair in this hypothetical scenario, I'd probably offer Braun a two-year deal worth $50 million.
But let's get back to reality. Brewers GM Doug Melvin can't just release Braun, as they still owe him more than $100 million, and they can't trade him because his value could not be lower right now. However, his value won't stay low for long.
As history has shown us, while the PED stench doesn't ever go away, it does wear off. Melky Cabrera still managed to sign a two-year, $16 million deal on the heels of his PED suspension, and he is a fraction of the player that Braun is. Out in Oakland, some folks are saying that Bartolo Colon -- who also took a 50-game hit for PED use last summer -- should be getting consideration for the Cy Young Award.
Point is, Braun's value will return, and Doug Melvin will need to do everything he can to expedite the process. If I'm Melvin, I get together with Braun in a couple of weeks once the dust has settled and tell him to do two things.
1. Do a tell-all TV interview and fess up to everything while specifically apologizing to all those that he hurt, naming as many as possible, including Dino Laurenzi Jr., the collector whose name was dragged through the mud by Braun when his PED suspension was overturned in 2012.
2. Create a nonprofit charity geared toward mentoring young athletes, and travel to elementary schools, high schools and colleges this fall, explaining how PEDs and lying were the wrong path to take.
If Braun can pull that off and actually show some remorse, fans will begin to forgive him. There is nothing this country loves more than a redemption story as long as you can show that you have learned from your mistakes.
Once Braun has started to build up a little bit of goodwill, I wouldn't be surprised if Melvin starts to shop him around a little bit over the winter. I'm not sure if anyone would bite, but it would be worth exploring the market that might be out there for him. For example, maybe the Dodgers would consider swapping him for Matt Kemp, another highly-paid star who has some issues of his own -- he can't seem to stay on the field. Again, I wouldn't expect to be able to trade Braun this offseason, but that's when you can start to think about trading him.
More likely, the Brewers should go into next year with Braun, who will turn 30 in November, as their left fielder and cleanup hitter. PEDs or not, I'd expect him to hit close to .300 with 30-30 potential, and soon enough he'll have recaptured his superstar status.
Don't believe me? Remember that Colon made the All-Star team this year less than 12 months after testing positive for PEDs. That's right, Jim Leyland selected him for the team. That's another way of saying that the industry still sees star players as star players, PEDs or not.
Obviously, Colon isn't the same as Braun because he didn't publicly lie about his PED use with Lance Armstrong-esque fervor, but the larger point is that fans will forgive PED users when given time. And a year from now, if Braun performs as I expect him to and shows the proper level of the remorse, the Brewers could get full value for him in a trade if they want to go that route. Alternatively, they can try to build another winner around him, and I'd expect the fans to come out to support a contender as they've shown they will in Milwaukee.
So while it's easy for a newspaper or a fan to say, "get rid of Braun," it's simply not practical. Not only is Braun the most valuable asset the Brewers have, he's one of the most valuable assets in the game, and Milwaukee must do everything it can to maximize it.