Braun, Brewers should restructure contract
The news of Ryan Braun's rest-of-season suspension hit Milwaukee and the rest of the baseball world like a ton of bricks on Monday. After a year and a half of denying any violation of Major League Baseball's drug program, Braun succumbed to MLB's mounting pile of evidence against him that proved otherwise. Rather than appeal the decision, Braun agreed to a 65-game suspension without pay.
Many believe that Braun got off easy. The Brewers are in last place in the NL Central, and while Braun will miss out on just over $3.3 million in salary, he still has $133 million in salary coming his way through the 2020 season (the team and Braun have a mutual option for 2021).
Is that the kind of punishment that will deter others from tempting fate and choosing to cheat and lie rather than uphold the integrity of the game? For those who aren't concerned about their legacy, I would say "no".
Ryan Braun has a long road to recovery, and while there is no Image-101 course he can take to earn the good-graces of Brewers fans, there are steps he can take to begin down the path.
Step one is a heartfelt apology - one free of a lawyer's touch. Many have chastised Braun for vanishing at approximately 3:15pm on Monday and leaving his teammates to answer questions about his suspension. Considering MLB's on-going investigation, however, Braun will remain silent on revealing details that everyone with an interest is eager to learn about.
In a statement made Thursday via brewers media relations spokesman, Braun said, "When I am able to, I will speak. I know it was difficult for everybody, but I was not, and am still not, legally allowed to say anything yet."
In addressing the media on Wednesday night, Brewers owner Mark Attanasio made it clear that Braun will be in the Brewers plans for 2014.
"He's under contract with us," Attanasio said. "I know there's been a lot of commentary on that. Right now, the full expectation is to keep him. And the full expectation that he's going to do the right things, he's going to say the right things, and he's going to put in a lot of hard work to get back in folks' good graces."
What's not clear is if Braun will come back to the team under his current contract terms. Braun is scheduled to earn $10 million next season. If Braun wants to earn the good graces of Brewers fans back, a major step in the right direction would be an agreement to rip up his current contract and start fresh.
I would think there is some level of creativity that could be applied here. Put your thinking cap on and determine what you feel is appropriate. Perhaps a one or two-year deal with a team option could be drafted. There could be contingencies to not balloon a long-term deal to beyond what his current contract is worth. Whatever - there are a thousand ways to skin a cat. The point is, I just don't think Braun should walk back into the long-term security of his mega-deal when the 2014 league year begins.
Braun will truly have to earn his way back into the heart's of the fans, he should also have to start fresh and earn every cent he makes.