The Milwaukee Brewers didn't sign free-agent third baseman Aramis Ramirez on Monday merely because they fear a 50-game suspension for National League most valuable player Ryan Braun at the start of next season.

But it didn't hurt.

The Brewers were in pursuit of Ramirez before learning over the weekend that Braun faces the suspension after a positive drug test in October. They reached agreement with the 33-year-old veteran on a three-year deal for $36 million.

The Brewers didn't officially announce the signing because Ramirez has to pass a physical examination. But later in the day they opened third base for him completely by trading Casey McGehee to Pittsburgh for reliever Jose Veras.

Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said the Ramirez signing was hardly a knee-jerk reaction to the possibility of losing Braun. In fact, Melvin first began talking to agent Paul Kinzer about signing Ramirez at the general managers meetings in mid-November at The Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee.