How much should the Atlanta Braves spend in free agency?

How much should the Atlanta Braves spend in free agency?

The club is estimated to have paid the luxury tax in 2023.
Does this affect how much you spend in the off-season?
Many people were surprised to hear that the Atlanta Braves started 2023 with a top 10 salary cap position.

Atlanta’s $203 million salary on Cote’s baseball contract was nowhere near the Mets’ all-time spending of $343 million, but still well above the league average of $165 million.

And if you think about it, this makes sense – Atlanta\’s signed a LOT of the roster to long-term deals, with several regulars earning anywhere from $5M (Michael Harris II) to $22M (Matt Olson) in 2023.

(Of note here is that not one of Atlanta\’s long-term deals is poised to exceed $22M AAV per year – I don\’t think that\’s a hard cap, but it seems to be a limit that Atlanta\’s reluctant to exceed.)

When you factor in the additional costs that go into calculating MLB\’s luxury tax figures – 40-man roster costs, retained salaries (colloquially known as \”dead money\”), minor-league salaries and player benefits – the projection is that Atlanta\’s total Competitive Balance Tax payroll broke $250M, a $17M overage of the $233M threshold.
That would result in Atlanta, as a first-time payer, receiving an estimated $3.5 million in tax, with any money spent over that first threshold subject to a 20 percent tax.

(The penalty increases depending on the number of consecutive years a team exceeds the threshold, with a 30% tax for two consecutive years and a 50% tax for three consecutive years.
In the first season, if the salary falls below the threshold, the penalty reverts to the first tax (20%).

What will 2024 look like financially?

Through 2024, the team has only invested $131 million in long-term deals.
Add the arbitration amount to the MLB Trade Rumors estimate of $46 million (assuming all eligible players sign) and you get $177 million.

But we can make some guesses.
If Morton returns to his current $20 million club price and Atlanta is comfortable with last year’s opening day salary cap, that would leave roughly $20 million to $25 million in salary to spend in free agency.
It wasn’t all spent in the offseason. Alex Anthopoulos likes having some dollars left over for acquisitions at the deadline, but it gives him room to improve the roster.
We’ve discussed what Atlanta needs this offseason: a left fielder (to pair with or replace Rosario if he’s retained at his $9 million option price), both a starting pitcher and a reliever.

Based on the $20-25 million projection above, Atlanta should have the money to address all of these areas this offseason.
I expect some additions to the bullpen. Joe Jimenez and Pierce Johnson are both free agents, Brad Hand, Kirby Yates and Collin McHugh are all expensive options and none of them (except for Johnson and Yates) are highly anticipated. return.

Due to the size of the salary cap, Atlanta may not be able to make much of a splash by signing Padres closer Josh Hader, but they could sign a multi-year reliever or two. (Bringing Jesse Chavez back to his league minimum contract would save the team money on acquisitions.)

As discussed on the podcast, Alex Anthopoulos is generally a good splash acquisition in the offseason.
Over the past three years, Atlanta has acquired Charlie Morton (2020 and beyond), Matt Olson (2021) and Sean Murphy in free agency.
2022) is achieved through trade.

That wouldn’t be unusual this offseason, and such a splash could attract a starting pitcher.
There are plenty of options available through trades and free agency, and you can expect Atlanta to be in the middle of that pool.
I don’t see a top player on the market other than Blake Snell, but it could be someone like Michael Wacha in the middle of the order.
However, how aggressively Atlanta will use its starting lineup appears to depend on Morton’s return.
If successful, Anthopoulos could double his starters or use Morton’s money to move contracts and then restock the considerable running back depth Atlanta saw last season.
Regardless, this is a very important milestone for the Braves.
In the short term, injuries to Kyle Wright, Ian Anderson and Michael Soroka have left next season’s rotation uncertain.
Max Fried’s free-agent departure could dampen Atlanta’s long-term postseason hopes if his replacement can’t get the two starts Atlanta has behind Spencer Strider in this game.

But Alex Anthopoulos hasn’t given up on the land of heroes just yet.
I hope it will work out.


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