Few really know about what the Braves’ spending levels will be for 2019 and future years, but they have at least positioned themselves properly to make the appropriate moves now.
What will the Atlanta Braves do this Fall and Winter? We are likely within days or weeks of finding out, but in times’ past, that answer has largely been dictated by financial restrictions.
This payroll subject is a frequent discussion topic in these pages… and the last time we put some detailed effort into it was about 6 months ago along with an October update. Since then, the projected numbers seem to have remained consistent.
When asked about the subject of budgets and payroll, both CEO Terry McGuirk and GM Alex Anthopoulos have declared at various times and in various ways that the Braves (a) will increase payroll in 2019; and (b) have ‘no restrictions in getting any specific player that they feel will help the club going forward’.
While those are paraphrased remarks, here are some of the more recent direct quotes:
From October 16 – Anthopoulos in the AJC:
“The payroll will go up for the current year,” Anthopoulos said.
From October 25th – Dan Schlossberg in Forbes.com:
“If there’s a deal that makes sense for us, and it’s a good asset to have, we’ll do it,” Anthopoulos told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Wednesday.
From back on March 28 – Dave O’Brien (then of the AJC) quoting McGuirk:
We’ve cleared the decks for next year. There will be very few teams that have as much to spend in the marketplace next year as the Atlanta Braves. And so the opportunity to spend is there, but it’s going to be done judiciously and sequentially when Alex says it’s time.
There has been a number of stories in recent days about the Braves and the State of their Financial Union:
All of these things point to Liberty Media’s own financial reports, which certainly do indicate that the entire Battery Atlanta plan is working as hoped: revenue is up. Profit is now being realized. Future outlook is solid. This is all true.
The parts that most continue to ignore on this subject include these:
- ‘Revenue’ is not equivalent to ‘profit’ (note: the fangraphs piece is a good treatment of the topic)
- Liberty still has a lot of work to do in paying for all of this new construction, both in Atlanta and in Florida.
Still – the message has been consistently conveyed that the Braves would add to the payroll when the time was right, and certainly the deck chairs have been arranged to make that possible – right here and right now.
The Latest Projections
The MLB Trade Rumors’ site projected a $135 million payroll. My own analysis projected in October that the Braves could go as high as $130 million. Most agree that the spending space will be in the range of $50 million.
Either of those payroll numbers could be correct depending on who the team might spend their monies to acquire – and of course that has yet to be determined.
In the extreme, $140 million would also be plausible – though I would expect that a number like this would not be reached unless there was a significant add-on at the time of the trade deadline.
So it’s a combination of things here: the availability of money to spend, and the appropriate apportionment of said monies.
Honestly, there might be something to say about having a more restricted payroll: with fewer options, the choices tend to be easier!
In this rare position, though, Alex Anthopoulos has the luxury(?) of a nearly unrestricted landscape… which presents myriad combinations of possibilities that no Braves GM has had available in over 20 years!
So this is all still great news for Braves’ fans: the team will certainly still have to compete in the marketplace for players against the Dodgers, Phillies, Yankees, etc.; but fact is, they can compete with them for the first time in close to a generation.