The sad news of the potential Biogenesis suspensions is going to send quite a few fantasy owners into a crazy panic, especially those with an interest in Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun. I get it. Braun was a top-three pick in virtually all fantasy leagues, he’s a proven, exceptional player, and his name has been in the news before for issues along this realm. Perhaps this time he can’t escape suspension. But I have to be honest, until I see him and the others actually get suspended and miss games this year -- these suspensions could easily be delayed, you know -- I’m just not going to believe it. We’ve been down roads similar to this before, and the initial furor of top fantasy options being lost for months eventually went away and proved much ado about nothing.
It’s certainly possible this situation is different, and Braun is hardly the only player with much to lose here, but let’s move away from the real-life issue to what fantasy owners need to know: We don’t know for sure if suspensions are coming, and even if they are, don’t you think everyone in your league is at least a bit on edge about it as well? Who is going to trade you Mike Trout for Braun? Justin Verlander? Even fast-starters like Jean Segura or Chris Davis? Nobody would. Fantasy baseball is often about minimizing risk, and even if I think the players' union will find a way -- they always do -- to overcome this, there is certainly risk.
So basically, I’m not doing anything with Braun, Nelson Cruz, Gio Gonzalez, Melky/Everth Cabrera and the other relevant fantasy options here. You can’t get proper value for them. After all, Braun isn’t stealing bases and he’s currently tied with Boston Red Sox afterthought Daniel Nava for the No. 41 spot among hitters on ESPN’s Player Rater. I’d buy low on Braun without all this distraction, but the risk certainly minimizes that to a degree. There’s risk on Braun in terms of statistical prowess too, in theory. He’s risky to trade for and risky to trade away, just like two spring trainings ago when he was supposed to be suspended coming off his MVP-winning season. He wasn’t and he was a draft-day steal. Frankly, if leaning toward buying or selling on Braun I’m sticking to the buying, but instead of moving a Justin Upton type, I’d be a bit more cautious.
Simply “taking what you can get” for Braun is hardly an advisable strategy. Preparing for his absence with a grand gesture makes little sense; you’re going to suddenly find a 30/30 guy in free agency? And please don’t nominate Yasiel Puig for that after two games! If you could trade a pitcher for a 30/30 player like that, you’d do it regardless of any potential suspension news in the first place. So you wait. And hope. Because with Braun we’re all in the same boat, but I still think this is a situation we have to wait and see with.