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Braun muses on future at Thanksgiving food drive

MLB.com @AdamMcCalvy

MILWAUKEE -- Perhaps Ryan Braun has an idea about how bold Brewers general manager David Stearns and assistant GM Matt Arnold should be this offseason, in the wake of the team's better-than-expected performance in 2017. Should they drop $100 million on a free agent like Jake Arrieta? Or save those resources and let the young core continue to develop?

If he does indeed have an opinion, Braun was keeping it to himself when he visited Miller Park on Wednesday to take donations for the team's annual Thanksgiving food drive.

MILWAUKEE -- Perhaps Ryan Braun has an idea about how bold Brewers general manager David Stearns and assistant GM Matt Arnold should be this offseason, in the wake of the team's better-than-expected performance in 2017. Should they drop $100 million on a free agent like Jake Arrieta? Or save those resources and let the young core continue to develop?

If he does indeed have an opinion, Braun was keeping it to himself when he visited Miller Park on Wednesday to take donations for the team's annual Thanksgiving food drive.

"I think David and Matt deserve the benefit of the doubt," the veteran slugger said. "If you look at their track record to this point, I think they have been incredibly successful in all of the decisions they have made. I think we are in really good hands with David and Matt at the helm."

For Braun, the clock is ticking. He turned 34 last week and is coming off a campaign in which calf and wrist injuries limited him to 17 home runs in 104 games, the lowest totals of his career outside his 2013 season, which was shortened by suspension.

Video: Ryan Braun on the Brewers season, team's future

Yet while Braun posted pedestrian numbers by his standards, the team flourished, improving by 13 victories over the prior season to go 86-76 and finish one game shy of a National League Wild Card.

"Overall, it went far better than I anticipated, far better than most people anticipated," Braun said. "The exciting thing is it pretty significantly moves up our time frame as far as when we expect to be competitive again -- consistently competitive.

"It's exciting for us as players, knowing we're hopefully looking to add instead of thinking about subtracting. That's a good place to be in as a player."

Especially a player hoping to have a few more shots at the postseason. Braun has three guaranteed years left on his contract, and the likelihood of a trade has decreased significantly since the Brewers almost sent him to the Dodgers in 2016.

Video: Must C Classic: Braun belts 300th career home run

Does Braun think he's heard the end of trade talk?

"You never know. Anything could happen at any point," he said. "But more than anything, because we're now back in a place where we're expected to win, I hope for the most part we've put that behind us."

Braun's Thanksgiving visit has been an annual event since 2013, when he stood outside Miller Park on a frigid morning and made his first public comments after being suspended for violations of Major League Baseball's PED policy. His subsequent visits have been happier affairs, including Wednesday, when Braun snapped photos with fans and, along with Arnold and Brewers manager Craig Counsell, took donations of Thanksgiving turkeys and non-perishable food.

Braun said he was able to recover from his nagging injuries without any significant rehab and resumed weight work after a short break following the season. He will resume hitting and throwing after Christmas, as usual.

So, it should be a normal offseason for the Brewers' longest-tenured player. With one exception.

"The fact both of my kids are now mobile has changed my offseason more than anything else," he said.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Milwaukee Brewers, Ryan Braun