The Braves haven’t made a move yet for the frontline starter that many expected them to land this offseason, but it hasn’t been for a lack of trying.
The Braves were tied to Aaron Nola early on, and there was even a reported six-year offer on the table that would have doubled the largest free agent contract handed out in franchise history. Of course, Nola used that to his advantage in his negotiations with the Phillies, landing a seven-year contract to stay in the city of Brotherly Love.
Since, the Braves have been linked to a number of other starting pitchers this offseason. Some bigger than others, and even Alex Anthopoulos came out and said at the Winter Meetings that they have been involved in a number of negotiations for arms this offseason that haven’t panned out.
Perhaps something still comes to fruition. There are still several months remaining in the offseason and most free agent and trade candidates are still available. However, if it doesn’t, it’s not for a lack of spending.
Alex Anthopoulos promised that payroll would rise again in 2024, and that promise has already been delivered. As of right now, the Braves currently have a luxury tax payroll of $264 million. That’s already a full $19 million higher than it was in 2023, and there are still months left to go before the season even starts.
The Braves are currently in the second level of the luxury tax for the first time in franchise history, and I would venture to guess that they will add at least one, if not multiple players to the roster before Opening Day. That also doesn’t even include any acquisitions they could potentially make in-season.
With the success of Truist Park and The Battery, there’s been a lot of talk about the Braves being a top-five payroll. Many people scoffed at the notion with an “I’ll believe it when I see it” type of attitude. Well, now we are seeing it.
In 2021, when the Braves won the World Series, their luxury tax payroll sat just south of $175 million. In 2022, it spiked to over $200 million and was at $245 million last year. This year, they will likely be looking at something closer to $275 million, and it’s possible they go even further, which would put them in the third level of the luxury tax.
The narrative that the Braves are unwilling to spend is outdated. They are headed towards being a perennial top-five payroll in baseball, with signs that it could rise even further in the future. Promises have been made by ownership, and promises are being delivered.
Photo: Photographer: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire