The Braves have money to be spent in 2019. We have been assured the payroll would be increased as the time became right to do so. It’s time.
The timing for the Atlanta Braves could only be better this off-season if they were also getting a new TV contract in place. We’ll have to wait until roughly 2027-28 to see that happen, but 2019 stands to be a nice mix of ‘contending’ while also being ‘budget flexible’.
Warning: there will be math ahead!
Let’s start with the basics – those currently under contract for the next season:
- Freddie Freeman: $21,000,000
- Julio Teheran: $11,000,000
- Darren O’Day: $9,000,000, though $1 million of this is deferred for 4 years.
- Ender Inciarte: $5,000,000
- Tyler Flowers: $4,000,000
Note: you will find some differences in the reported numbers; these represent the figures being paid out in 2019, exclusive of any pro-rated bonuses.
That adds to $49 million in confirmed team obligations before incentive bonuses and such. However, there’s more that we’ll have to estimate.
This is guesswork, but happily, the fine folks over at MLB Trade Rumors have been refining their prediction model quite well over the years. While there will be some inaccuracies, it’s a fair bet that the total will be quite close to reality.
Issued just 4 days ago, here are their estimates for the Braves in order of expected contract size:
There are some notes to consider here in this list:
- Adam Duvall played himself into the position of a strong non-tender candidate. I could see him re-signing on a minor league deal, but I can’t see the Braves signing up for $3.1 million under current circumstances. Heck, they passed on Matt Adams at around 4.6 million, and he was useful.
- Jose Ramirez could likewise lose his spot. Sam Freeman… maybe the same.
- Jacob Lindgren is a bit of a toss-up. The issue here isn’t about money, but involves his 40-man roster position combined with the fact of his second Tommy John procedure, performed at the end of March. If he were ready to go in February, I might think the Braves would hold onto him. However, it could be late Spring at best, so that gives us a coin flip… and I will call ‘tails’ and remove him from the list.
- There is some debate about the status of Jonny Venters. MLBTR put him on the list; Baseball-reference.com suggests that he is now a free agent. The Braves’ COTS page agrees. However, he is just short of years 6 years of MLB service time, which should keep him in the arbitration system. I will go ahead and include him at that $1.5 million salary, figuring that somebody is likely to go there – even if it’s not Venters.
If those guesses are accurate, then the arbitration-season numbers add up to $24.0 million. For the sake of being more conservative, I will call this $25 million.
All of this assumes that all single-year or expiring contracts end up being factored out of the equation. These are players that will have to be replaced by some other player that has a salary, but for now they are moved off the books.
So this excludes: