Braves: Roster breakdown, salary outlook, and extension candidates for next offseason

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Even though we just started spring workouts, it’s never too early to look ahead to 2022. Perhaps ownership will open their wallets in a non-COVID shortened season, but I wouldn’t hold your breath. Of course, the biggest ordeal between now and the 2022 campaign is a Freddie Freeman extension, but I’m almost positive that will be handled. So what else is on the horizon?

 

2022 Total Salary:

As it stands, Atlanta is sitting at $59,250,000 in total base salaries before arbitration and other implications. That’s sure to rise, but the Braves should still have significant money to spend, even after Freeman is extended. There’s no hard salary cap, so hey, have at it.

 

2022 Options:

Mercifully, if he’s still on the team, Atlanta can decline Ender Inciarte‘s team option and buy him out for $1.025 million next offseason. Josh Tomlin also has a club option for his 2021 salary at $1.25 million.

 

Non-Arbitration Rostered Players:

Marcell Ozuna ($16,000,000)

Ronald Acuna Jr.($15,000,000)

Will Smith ($13,000,000)

Ozzie Albies ($5,000,000)

Normally, teams across the league would be jumping for joy to have a roster this cheap. These are the only non-arbitration/option players under contract for 2022.

 

Notable Arbitration Eligible Players:

SS Dansby Swanson (ARB 3)

RHP Mike Soroka (ARB 2)

LHP Max Fried (ARB 2)

LHP AJ Minter (ARB 2)

RHP Chris Martin (ARB 1)

LHP Tyler Matzek (ARB 1)

 

Cristian Pache, Kyle Wright, Austin Riley, and Ian Anderson are all still pre-arbitration. Arbitration level three is the last level before unrestricted free agency, so it would be best to iron out an extension with Swanson, Soroka, Fried, and Minter sooner rather than later, especially Dansby. Chris Martin is weird, as he is under contract for $7,000,000 for 2021 but has three years of arbitration following this deal.

 

Notable Free Agents:

RHP Charlie Morton

LHP Drew Smyly

C Travis d’Arnaud

1B Freddie Freeman

 

The Braves really don’t know what they’re going to get out of Morton or Smyly, but they will be 38 and 32 respectively next offseason. Most of this depends on the development of guys like Bryse Wilson, Kyle Wright, Kyle Muller, Tucker Davidson, and others. Travis d’Arnaud is sort of in the same boat. He was fantastic in a smaller sample size in 2020, but if the team feels William Contreras and Shea Langeliers are ready, they may wish him goodbye. Let’s not dwell on the obvious, Freddie Freeman needs a nice extension to keep him in Atlanta for the rest of his career.

 

Extension Candidates:

RHP Mike Soroka

LHP Max Fried

SS Dansby Swanson

OF Cristian Pache

 

Personally, I’m in favor of buying out all of these guys’ remaining arbitration years and locking them up. Soroka probably won’t happen since he just won his arbitration case against Atlanta and will likely not play a full season. Fried is more likely, but I still doubt it. It would be better to avoid going to arbitration with Dansby again and just extend him for a few more seasons, especially if he plays like he did in 2020, posting the highest WAR for a shortstop in all of baseball. If Atlanta can lock up Pache now and get him on a deal like Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuña , I’m all for that as well.

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