Alex Anthopoulos has already said payroll is going up this season again, but that doesn’t mean the Braves will be able to target the top free agents this cycle.
Following the decision to exercise the $20 million option on Charlie Morton, along with the signings of Pierce Johnson and Joe Jimenez, the Braves payroll is already near $200 million once arbitration cases are settled. Last year, the Braves payroll ended at $206 million. It’s fair to expect it to rise $20-30 million in 2024, but that doesn’t leave the Braves too much money to fill their needs in left field, the rotation, and the bench/bullpen.
That’s where Vaughn Grissom becomes so vital.
It was said by Alex Anthopoulos earlier in the week that the Braves consider Grissom an option in left field. That would be the best case scenario. Given Grissom’s athletic profile, he should be able to handle the position. If Chipper Jones and Austin Riley can play left field, and Eddie Rosario can be named a Gold Glove finalist in left field, then Vaughn Grissom should be just fine in left field. There’s never been a concern regarding Grissom’s bat; it’s all about finding him a spot in the field.
If the Braves go that route, they can focus almost exclusively on bolstering their pitching staff, whether that be signing a high priced starter or multiple. Having an affordable option like Grissom taking over in left field would give Anthopoulos a ton more flexibility in free agency.
However, if the Braves don’t feel comfortable with Vaughn Grissom in left field, it’s time to trade him. There’s nowhere else for him to play, and he’s coming off an incredible season in AAA. He has plenty of trade value and could help the Braves land the frontline starter they need at a much more affordable rate.
In a way, I’m looking at Vaughn Grissom as the key to the offseason. Whether he helps the Braves save money on a left fielder or is used as trade bait, he’ll be critical in the team addressing their most glaring need.
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