Milwaukee Brewers veteran outfielder Ryan Braun said in January that the 2020 season could be his last. But given the unique circumstances presented by the COVID-19 pandemic and the 60-game shortened season, he may be rethinking those comments.
"I would say everything happening in our world, the COVID stuff specifically, certainly changes the dynamic," Braun told Adam McCalvy of MLB.com on Wednesday. "This season will be nothing like a normal baseball season experience. I think that all factors into changing the way I am thinking about things right now."
He added: "I would say based on where I'm at now, there is a higher likelihood that I would be interested in playing another year now than I thought there would be three or four months ago."
Braun, 36, said back in January that he had an added "sense of urgency" to win with the possibility of a looming retirement, per the Associated Press (via ESPN.com):
"I don't take for granted this could be my last year playing baseball. Obviously, there's a sense of urgency every year, but for me, knowing that this could be my last chance ever, it's something that adds to that sense of urgency.
"I feel good about the fact that they've put a team together that should be competitive again. We went to the postseason the past two years. The team that we lost to last year ended up winning the whole thing. It's just about finding a way to get into the postseason and finding a way to get hot at the right time."
The question is whether Milwaukee will bring him back. As McCalvy noted, the 2020 season is the last guaranteed deal in Braun's contract, which has a $15 million mutual option for 2021 that includes a $4 million buyout.
He's remained productive later in his career, hitting .285 with 22 homers, 75 RBI, 70 runs and 11 stolen bases in 2019. If he stays on that pace—relative to 2020's shortened 60-game season—the Brewers probably wouldn't need to think too hard about bringing him back for one more year, even at his high price tag.