Could the Braves sign a frontline starter AND star shortstop?

Bleacher Report Braves DeGrom

Rightfully, there was a lot of excitement when Braves chairman Terry McGuirk said his goal is for the club to have a top five payroll in baseball next season after entering the top ten in 2022. The Battery has done wonderful things for the Braves and building a sustainable winner doesn’t hurt either. Atlanta will spend more than they ever have in the coming year, but does that mean they will bring in a frontline starter and premier shortstop of this free agent class this offseason?

When the Braves signed Ronald Acuña and Ozzie Albies to their contract extensions, it was viewed as highway robbery. Unfortunately, both have dealt with injuries over the last two years, but still, these are fantastic contracts for the Braves, as they have these two young stars under club control through 2028 and 2027, respectively.

It seems like just yesterday these deals were signed, but we are actually right in the middle of them. The days of Acuña and Albies earning $1 million a year are over, so let’s take a look at their contracts.

All figures via Spotrac*

Ronald Acuña

YEAR AGE STATUS BASE SALARY LUXURY TAX SALARY PAYROLL SALARY ADJUSTED SALARY YEARLY CASH
2023 25 $17,000,000 $12,500,000 $17,000,000 $17,000,000 ($38,370,370)
2024 26 $17,000,000 $12,500,000 $17,000,000 $17,000,000 ($55,370,370)
2025 27 $17,000,000 $12,500,000 $17,000,000 $17,000,000 ($72,370,370)
2026 28 $17,000,000 $12,500,000 $17,000,000 $17,000,000 ($89,370,370)
2027 29 Club $17,000,000 $12,500,000 $17,000,000 $17,000,000 ($99,370,370)
2028 30 Club $17,000,000 $12,500,000 $17,000,000 $17,000,000 ($99,370,370)

Ozzie Albies 

YEAR AGE STATUS BASE SALARY LUXURY TAX SALARY PAYROLL SALARY ADJUSTED SALARY YEARLY CASH
2023 26 $7,000,000 $5,000,000 $7,000,000 $7,000,000 ($16,370,370)
2024 27 $7,000,000 $5,000,000 $7,000,000 $7,000,000 ($23,370,370)
2025 28 $7,000,000 $5,000,000 $7,000,000 $7,000,000 ($30,370,370)
2026 29 Club $7,000,000 $5,000,000 $7,000,000 $7,000,000 ($34,370,370)
2027 30 Club $7,000,000 $5,000,000 $7,000,000 $7,000,000 ($34,370,370)

As you can see, both of these contracts are structured exactly the same. Albies’ deal is just one year shorter. Acuña will make $17 million over the next four years, and if his options are picked up, he will make that figure over the next six years. Albies will make $7 million over the next three seasons, and if his options are picked up, he will make $7 million over the next five seasons.

I assume the club options on both players will be picked up. I only wanted to point this out because, sure, the Braves signed their young core to some amazing deals, but eventually all of these guys will be getting paid pretty handsomely, which will cause payroll to rise significantly without the additions of any free agents. So while the Braves have money to spend this winter, it’s probably not enough to land a frontline starter AND sign one of the premier shortstops in this free agent class.

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