Ryan Braun has only three years remaining on his long contract with the Milwaukee Brewers, but after the team’s surprising showing in 2017 he is optimistic about getting another shot at the playoffs before his career with the club ends. “It was a fun year, an exciting year,” said Braun, who continued his Thanksgiving tradition of helping the Brewers with their annual food drive at Miller Park on Wednesday. “We finished one game short of the postseason this year. So, you can look back and think about how many games could have finished differently. If we had found a way to win one extra game, we could have been in the playoffs. “Obviously, it gives me great hope, it gives all of us great hope, that we can find a way to get back to the postseason. Once you get there, anything can happen. The goal for me, for as many more years as I’m playing, is to be on teams that are consistently competitive and have a chance to get to the postseason. So, that’s what I expect after what we accomplished this year.” In the second full season of their large-scale rebuilding process, the Brewers surprised many by surging to a 5½-game lead in the National League Central at the all-star break. They eventually were passed by the Chicago Cubs but stayed in the hunt for the second wild-card berth until the penultimate day of the season. The Brewers’ 86-76 record was an improvement of 13 victories from the previous season and left them a game behind Colorado for that second wild-card spot. Braun said that surprising showing moved the rebuilding process forward more than could have been expected, perhaps avoiding the years of losing that most teams experience when completely rebooting. “Overall, it went better than I anticipated; I think 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. So, it’s exciting for us as players knowing we’re going into the off-season hopefully looking to add instead of thinking about subtracting.” How significant any addition will be, or should be, has been a topic of discussion among Brewers fans and the baseball world in general. General manager David Stearns has been reported to have interest in the top tier of free-agent starting pitchers, including the likes of Jake Arrieta and Lance Lynn.