There are several ways to read an MLB payroll, but in layman’s terms, the Braves ended the year with a payroll of around $160MM. As Braves fans, the following news was the bomb dot com:
Anthopoulos said #Braves' payroll will increase in 2022, over what it ended at this year (after trade-deadline additions). He wouldn't give a figure, said that's not finalized yet, but that it will rise.— David O'Brien (@DOBrienATL) November 7, 2021
I’m not going to speculate too much on what that means, but more to the point, I don’t think Anthopoulos mentions it without it being a fairly significant increase. Could we see the first $200MM payroll in Braves’ history? I think it’s a real possibility.
Braves Payroll Commitments
- Charlie Morton: $20MM
- Will Smith: $13MM
- Marcell Ozuna: $16MM
- Travis d’Arnaud: $8MM
- Ronald Acuna Jr. $15MM
- Ozzie Albies: $5MM
- Adam Duvall: $3MM buyout
- Joc Pederson: $2.5MM buyout (not on roster)
- Josh Tomlin: $250K buyout (not on roster)
- Manny Piña: $3.5MM
Arbitration Estimates For Likely Returnees
- Dansby Swanson: $9.25MM
- Max Fried: $7.4MM
- Austin Riley: $3.2MM
- Luke Jackson: $3.5MM
- Mike Soroka: $2.85MM
- A.J. Minter: $2.25MM
- Tyler Matzek: $1.75MM
- Adam Duvall: $9MM
Breakdown: If the above 14 break camp (excluding Soroka) with the Braves, there would be about $125MM invested with what will likely be 12 positions to fill. There’s obviously a chance that Ozuna’s contract partially goes away or is void for all of 2022, which would be good news. However, the Braves have a decent-sized list of pre-arb guys that truly cost very little in the baseball world. Those include roster staples like Ian Anderson and Huascar Ynoa and up and down guys like Touki Toussaint, Spencer Strider, Tucker Davidson, and Kyle Muller. A reasonable estimate for pre-arb players would be $4MM total, which brings the roster up to about 20, leaving five holes to fill. For now, I’m counting Acuña on the active roster, but I do realize that he’ll likely be sidelined for the first month.
Freddie Freeman and His Contract
I fully believe that Freddie will be here in 2022. I also fully believe that his contract will be front-loaded and taper off in his later years. I think the number for the first three years will be around $30MM, then end in the $20-25MM range in his last three to four years.
If that were the case, the Braves would have about $158MM invested into 21 of the available 26 roster spots.
The 5 Needs
Luckily for the Braves, with the potential re-signing of Freddie, the core is complete. From there, the Braves have to grab an outfielder (or two), a bench bat (which I’d bet good $ it’ll be Ehire Adrianza), a few relief pitchers, and starting pitcher. As you can see, if the payroll is close to $200MM, filling out the roster can be a WHOLE lot of fun. If it’s closer to $170MM, things get tight. Time will tell, but I’m optimistic.