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Milwaukee Brewers: Should the Brewers Trade Ryan Braun This Offseason?

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COMMENTARY | Life hasn't been the same for Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun since October of 2011.

It should have been the time of Braun's life. The Brewers made their deepest run in the playoffs since 1982, fighting off the Arizona Diamondbacks in a thrilling five-game NLDS. Then, they came just two games short of the team's first World Series appearance in 29 years. Just more than a month later, Braun was named the National League's Most Valuable Player.

But nobody knew the information Braun and a select few were withholding. In early October, Braun tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone, and he didn't even have a month to enjoy his MVP Award as news leaked in December of Braun's failed drug test.

The chain of events that followed is well-documented. Braun successfully appealed the 50-game suspension, invigorating new hope in Milwaukee's fan base, only to once again be linked to performance-enhancing drugs in 2013 and accept a 65-game ban.

If we asked this question two years ago, you'd run me straight out of town. Even today, some might find it out of line. Should the Brewers consider moving their maligned star during the offseason?

First, the argument against trading Braun:

He'll be 30 years old entering the 2014 season and in the prime of his career. Assuming Braun was off PEDs in 2012, it didn't appear to have any effect, as he arguably put up better numbers than in his 2011 MVP season. Braun has apologized, even personally to some, admitted fault and deserves a second chance at winning back the Brewers' fan base.

The argument for trading Braun:

Maybe he was still using PEDs during 2012 and beyond and won't be the same player moving forward. The Brewers managed to finish one game above .500 after Braun was suspended and saw Khris Davis step up in his absence. Braun is still owed well over $100 million and is under contract through 2021. His continuous lies burned the bridge, and there is no forgiving Braun for what he did.

There are some obvious roadblocks to trading Braun. Does a franchise really want that kind of baggage? Bringing in Braun could result in a major black eye, and taking on that kind of money would also hinder what a team can do financially.

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe spoke to an MLB executive who doesn't see Braun going anywhere whether the Brewers want to trade him or not.

That would appear to end the argument right there, but, then again, that's only the opinion of one person. Braun's talent is impossible to deny, and you'd have to figure there are some teams that would gladly welcome his services.

Those teams would likely require deep pockets, such as the New York Yankees or Boston Red Sox. A move to the American League could result in less scrutiny for Braun, playing for and against teams that are less familiar with him. Brewers fans feel like they were directly lied to, and that necessary forgiveness period wouldn't happen with a new team.

We've gone from "should the Brewers trade Braun?" to "can the Brewers trade Braun?" But here's the most important question: Do the Brewers want to trade Braun?

The return would have to be enormous for Milwaukee to even consider pulling the trigger -- likely some high-end pitching and a worthy outfielder at the very least. That might not be something a potential trade partner would be interested in parting ways with at this moment.

Think about it. Could there be a worse time to try and trade Braun? There are just too many questions that need answering, the main one being if Braun can continue playing at a high level.

Of course, that could be a reason that supports why the Brewers would want to trade Braun, as well. But when making trades, the goal is to get the best value in return as possible, and Braun's value is at an all-time low.

Throwing the public perception of Braun out the window, the biggest factor is if Braun helps Milwaukee be successful. Even if Braun continues playing world-class baseball, if it's not enough to push the Brewers over the top, then that would be the best time to shop the Silver Slugger.

In a word, no -- the Brewers shouldn't trade Ryan Braun. At least not yet.

Dave Radcliffe is a resident of a little known Milwaukee suburb who is an avid follower of Wisconsin sports. He has contributed to JSOnline, as a featured columnist on other sites and publications, and been a guest on multiple sports talk radio shows.

You can get the discussion going and follow Dave on Twitter @DaveRadcliffe_.

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