The Braves are already projected to have the highest payroll this season in the franchise’s history. Liberty Media has been printing cash following the 2021 World Series Championship and The Battery’s success. And executives from every corner of the two organizations have made clear their intentions to be a top-five payroll sooner than later.
Alex Anthopoulos still has a couple of decisions to make regarding the shortstop position and left field. The Braves could very well roll with a combination of Vaughn Grissom and Orlando Arcia to replace Dansby Swanson, but they aren’t done tweaking the roster. The Braves have money to spend, but the club won’t spend frivolously; AA is all about value. But it looks like any move will result in the Braves crossing the Luxury Tax threshold, per Spotrac’s projected Opening Day payrolls:
It is shocking to see the Mets and Steve Cohen’s tax bill, which is projected to be larger than some club’s entire payroll. That might be a problem, but I digress. The Braves will never be able to outspend Cohen, the Dodgers, the Yankees, or other big market teams. Still, the Braves aren’t pinching pennies. They just put a priority on value.
This is a club that just signed Austin Riley, Matt Olson, Michael Harris II, and Spencer Strider to contract extensions worth over $500 million over the last year. That’s on top of the big extensions already on the books in Ronald Acuna Jr. and Ozzie Albies, including Raisel Iglesias‘ $58 million contract the club inherited when they acquired the closer at last season’s trade deadline. Below are the projected top ten most expensive contracts for the Braves in 2023
- Matt Olson — $21 million 2023 AAV ($21 million Luxury Tax Salary)
- Charlie Morton — $20 million ($20 million)
- Ronald Acuna Jr. — $17 million ($12.5 million)
- Raisel Iglesias — $16 million ($14.5 million)
- Marcell Ozuna — $16 million ($16.25 million)
- Austin Riley — $15 million ($21.2 million)
- Max Fried — $12.2 million (arbitration projection)
- Eddie Rosario — $9 million ($9 million)
- Travis d’Arnuad — $8 million ($8 million)
- Ozzie Albies — $7 million ($5 million)
- Top 10 Total: $141.2 million ($139.65 million Lux. Tax)
This list does not include players like Michael Harris II and Spencer Strider, whose salaries haven’t yet been reflected by their new contracts but do affect the team’s luxury tax payroll. The two will combine to cost the Braves $21.5 million in 2023 — Strider ($12.5 million) and Harris ($9 million). But there are key pieces to the team’s success — Kyle Wright, AJ Minter, and Colin McHugh — that are costing a fraction of what other teams are paying for players of their caliber.
With the Braves sitting around $5 million away from the luxury tax threshold, it’s almost a certainty at this point. If AA adds a reliever, DH, or left field platoon option, the contract will likely eclipse $5 million and will cost Liberty Media. However, compared to the Yankees and Mets, the Braves are extremely frugal.
Photo: David John Griffin/Icon Sportswire
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