Free Agent to be Russell Branyan: Out for the Year?

Josh LevittSenior Analyst ISeptember 4, 2009

SEATTLE - AUGUST 14:  Russell Branyan #30 of the Seattle Mariners bats against the New York Yankees during the game at Safeco Field on August 14, 2009 in Seattle, Washington.  The Yankees won 4-2.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

And it looks like Russell Branyan's magical 2009 season has unfortunately come to a close. Injuries suck:

"Wakamatsu said there is a strong possibility that Russell Branyan will not be back this season. Branyan is on the DL with a herniated disc in his back. The team is targeting a mid-month return in hopes he responds to treatment.

Branyan had an epidural Tuesday and supposedly feels better, but nobody can say for sure when he'll be back.

"I think with the bulging disc, there's a strong chance that he won't come back," Wakamatsu said. "Our dialogue has been to shoot for the 15th."

Well, that's unfortunate. Branyan has been one of the feel good stories this year by having the best season of his career at age 33. Branyan hit .251 with 31 home runs, 76 RBI, and a .347 OBP.

However, now that it looks like Branyan will miss the entire month of September, how will that affect his free agent candidacy?

On the one hand, the injury is obviously a negative. Nobody wants to be injured. If Branyan was healthy, he would have had the opportunity to hit 40 home runs for the first time in his career and the opportunity to potentially raise his batting average.

In addition, now Branyan will have to prove to teams during the offseason that he is indeed healthy and that there will be no lingering effects from the injury.

But on the other hand, Branyan's injury will prevent his batting average from dropping any further. Since the All-Star break, Branyan has only hit .193, which is a far cry from his .280 batting average before the break.

There's a very good chance that Branyan's 2009 batting average could have dipped below .240 if he continued to decline, which would have really hurt his free agent candidacy.

So if Branyan is indeed done for the season, I don't think the injury will hurt his free agent candidacy that much. I predicted that Branyan was in line for a two year/$15 million dollar contract a few weeks back, so if anything, I could see Branyan's potential deal coming down into the two year/$12 million dollar range.