Reports throughout the season indicated the Braves could have as much as $50-$60 million to spend on boosting the team next season. While David O’ Brien is merely providing an estimate, he believes the Braves are now working with “perhaps $20 million or less” after the signings of Josh Donaldson and Brian McCann. This article requires a subscription, but the Athletic has a free trial right now and is recommended reading. DOB does a great job and it is great to see his reporting with no timelines or constraints.
Perhaps the addition of Darren O’Day at the trade deadline has eaten into a bit of these funds that have been estimated but never confirmed for obvious reasons. However, he should be a great veteran presence in the bullpen assuming he is healthy.
So what does this mean for the Braves?
The team likely has one big signing to their avail or could opt to sign a couple middle-tier free agents, which is probably more realistic. Don’t expect them to sign Bryce Harper or anything, but all of the secondary options for corner outfield and relievers should still be on the table. The team has reportedly been interested in Joakim Soria. This should work financially and they could likely still have a shot at bringing in a veteran such as Andrew McCutchen or Nick Markakis.
Of course, given the number of options on the table for starting pitching, they will likely have to turn to the trade market to get that ace pitcher everybody is craving. Dallas Keuchel will not come cheap and many Braves fans fear he could become a “Mike Hampton deal” for the Braves. This seems harsh but it just seems unlikely the Braves pay a starter given the way the market is shaping out. Charlie Morton seems more feasible but some team will likely give him a big-dollar, short-term deal, similar to what Josh Donaldson received.
It’s easier said than done, but if the team moves Julio Teheran as many have speculated for years, the Braves could free up some of the $11.2 million he is owed this season and could perhaps find a reliever to boost their bullpen in such deal.
Overall, the expected funds may be on the lower end of the spectrum that many fans were expecting. However, it is not time to go into panic mode. The Braves still have a bit of money to spend and have no shortage of assets down on the farm. They have the means to fill these three holes by Opening Day.