With pitchers and catchers reporting in less than a month, I’d say there’s about a 90% chance the Braves are done making substantial moves this offseason. I’ll leave 10% up in the air for trades. Although it’s much more likely Anthopoulos sees what he has in this group over the first half of the season before trading away top prospects for help.
Prior to the Ozuna signing, the Braves already had a projected payroll that would have been the highest Opening Day payroll in franchise history at around $132 million, according to Spotrac. Now, that number is likely going to be over $150 million, pending Shane Greene’s arbitration hearing in February. Last year, the Braves finished the season at over $143 million, which was easily the highest finishing payroll for the team ever.
In late November, I wrote a piece about what the Braves payroll could be in 2020. This was following the signing of Travis d’Arnaud and before Atlanta inked a one-year pact with Cole Hamels. In it, I shared a quote by Braves executive Mike Plant, originally from Tim Tucker of the AJC, “We’re set up to win, and we’re going for it,” Plant told investors. He continued by talking about how increased revenue from The Battery will help them spend more money on the team, and thus, bring another World Series to Atlanta.
At the time, I projected that meant they planned to spend at least $145 million. Now, I thought a large chunk of that would be spent on Donaldson, but using it on Cole Hamels and Marcell Ozuna may turn out to be an even wiser investment. But regardless – since the beginning – this offseason has shown that Liberty Media may be a little bit more willing to spend than we may have thought.
The Braves are still well below the luxury tax threshold of $208 million, but it’s a start and will put Atlanta above the league average payroll heading into Opening Day. If things continue to trend in this direction, as The Battery continues to thrive, the Braves are going to have a lot of loaded rosters over the next decade, as they chase that elusive World Series that Plant promised back in November.