Taking a look to November to understand June/July

We are now in many fans’ favorite time of the year – trade rumor season! We put out our stockings and hope Santa Wren will deliver a pretty gift in our laps by July 31 (or August 31 if you understand the difference in the waiver and non-waiver trade deadlines). The problem is that many of us see the new Ferrari and don’t remember we have a Maserati sitting in the driveway already. So what does the team need? What can the Braves afford? What will 2014 look like if the team acquires a big bat/arm in the trading season?

Here’s a first shot look at what the Braves will look like in 2014. I researched a lot of similar players and tried to estimate arbitration numbers based on inflation from older numbers:

Free agents after 2013:
Brian McCann
Tim Hudson
Paul Maholm
Eric O’Flaherty
Reed Johnson (has a 2014 club option with a $150K buyout)

Signed for 2014:
Justin Upton $14.25M
B.J. Upton $13.45M
Dan Uggla $13.2M
Gerald Laird $1.5M
Total – $42.4M

Arbitration Estimates:
Jason Heyward $5.75M
Craig Kimbrel $5.1M
Chris Johnson $4.2M
Kris Medlen $4.1M
Freddie Freeman $3.7M
Jonny Venters $2M
Brandon Beachy $1.3M
Jordan Walden $1.25M
Cristhian Martinez $1.1M
Ramiro Pena $925K
Paul Janish $900K
Jordan Schafer $625M
Total – $31.05M
Overall Total – $73.45M

Unsigned, can be unilaterally re-upped:
Mike Minor $700K
Andrelton Simmons $650K
Evan Gattis $600K
Julio Teheran $570K
Anthony Varvaro – $550K
Luis Avilan – $550K
Total – $3.62M
Overall Total – $77.07M

That leaves 3 positions open, the lowest cost to fill those positions will be major league minimum, which will be right around $500K, for a total of $1.5M
Overall Total – $78.57M

The Braves have stated that there will be some payroll flexibility due to the start of the new national television deal, expected to give each team around $20M of extra revenue. The team has hovered around $90-95M in payroll for the last few years, so a little more flexibility would possibly allow the Braves to look at a 9-figure payroll.

Looking at the 2014 roster above, there are 2 catchers, 1 first baseman, 1 second baseman, 1 third baseman, 1 shortstop, 2 utility infielders, 4 outfielders, 4 starting pitchers, and 5 relievers. One would assume that the three open roster spots would all belong to pitchers based on that roster.

Here’s the problem with that logic – the Braves have guys like Alex Wood, JR Graham, Sean Gilmartin, and more who are knocking on the major league door, so signing a long-term starter really doesn’t make a lot of sense. The Braves have some great players early in arbitration that they could save significant money on if they would extend them this offseason (Heyward, Freeman, Simmons). Pitchers typically are not great early-extension candidates, but perhaps the elite production of Craig Kimbrel may warrant reconsideration to this typical rule.

So looking forward, I don’t have the pure answer, but as we start throwing out names like David Price, Matt Garza, or Jake Peavy, let’s consider how that player will affect the 2014 payroll and the prospect cost as well.

Sorry to burst your buble, David! Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Topics: Atlanta Braves, FanSided

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  • http://tomahawktake.com/ carpengui

    Wren does have the flexibility in payroll to do whatever he thinks the team needs in July – Terry McGuirk indicated that $98m was essentially the target payroll point for this year, and they are $5-8m below that… depending how you look at BJ’s pre-tax-increase bonus from December. That kind of money will buy a lot since ~60-65% of a player’s salary will already have been paid by the end of July.

    So…. what is needed?
    1. Bullpen stopper to replace EOF, Venters
    2. I’m not sure there is a #2.

    Crazy, bold moves that *could* be done… but shouldn’t be done:
    1. Quietly shop McCann to the highest bidder, since he’s likely gone after 2013. That could be used to either solve #1 above or bring back a solid prospect. Trick will be whether you believe loss of McCann and his LH bat (and defense; playoff exp) is worth the return vs. waiting on a risky compensation pick in 2014.

    2. Shop Maholm since he’s likely priced himself out of our market for 2014. Again, gotta balance loss of a reliable lefty starter vs. the return. In his case, though, there will most likely be no Qualifying contract offer, and thus no compensation pick for his loss. This resolves the ‘Beachy problem’, but also leaves you with less experience, fewer backup options.

    3. Dump Uggla. Yeah, well, that’s not gonna happen.

    • Benjamin Chase

      I didn’t mention it, but one of the things that I’m interested in is the decision on who to tender a qualifying offer to in November. McCann is almost a given, but Maholm may be pitching himself into such an offer.

      • http://tomahawktake.com/ carpengui

        You could be right – as I peruse the list of 2013-14 free agents-to-be, I don’t see another LHP anywhere close to Maholm’s performance. So let’s say he is a fringe Q-Offer guy…that brings up another question (or 2):

        1. How much would the Braves be winning to pay him ($13.5m/1 yr?)?

        2. How low would Maholm go so as not to be placed in a Kyle Lohse situation (being tied to draft-pick compensation and having teams afraid to both spend the money and lose the pick)?

        Either way, he could end up as a Dodger, Angel, Met or Yankee. I’ll throw in Giant as well.

        • fireboss

          Maholm may get a 3 at 10 offer from the Braves but not more. He’ll never smell a qualifying offer so no draft pick attached and I think the Giants might well give him 4 years and an AAV near 40. He fits the Sabean signing profile. Mets and Pirates (yes again) may well be in the hunt as well. I could see the Giants asking about Maholm at the deadline but I don;t think they have enough for us to trade him to a contender we may face. American league teams will stay away from him and he’d do well to avoid them. He wouldn’t fare well over there.

          • http://tomahawktake.com/ carpengui

            Those numbers smell about right, though I also agree with Ben. Maholm is about to hit 31 (in 11 days)… he will want a multi-year deal. 4 years is probably right; if anybody goes for 5, they will win. But if he can’t work anything w/Atlanta, I could see a QO made…which Maholm’s agent would cringe to see.

            Meanwhile: does Huddy run into Frank’s office the day after the season ends and try to pre-empt the process by asking “how about 2 yrs for $7m each?” He pretty much did that 3 years ago. I just don’t see how we keep both him and Maholm around, given the kids available.

          • Benjamin Chase

            I could see neither of them needed for the 2014 rotation without acquiring another starter, but I think many fans would consider that throwing in the towel on the season as they’d go in with an entire staff under 30.

          • fireboss

            Huddy will decide after the season if he plays next year and if he does it will be in Atlanta but likely one year at 9 again if he continues to pitch well with an option. Doesn;t want to pitch anywhere else and he has value above what he does on the mound.

        • cheadrick

          I weighed in little on this, because it’s all conjecture. Interesting conjecture, but conjecture nonetheless. Here’s mine: Either Huddy or Maholm will not be a Brave beyond 2013, and one of them might go even sooner with the need to get a good reliever and Beachy’s return (all that is REALLY conjecture, including conjecture about a six man (bad idea), and maybe even Julio being sent to the minors this season – not really in the argument, but relevant currently). My gut? Paul Maholm will be traded. He won’t return great value, but it will probably be enough to get good relief, either now or for the future. I would like to see other moves made, but that’s what I think will happen.

      • fireboss

        BMac gets the only qualifying offer. Maholm is never going to get a $14M qualifying offer. Not a chance in hell. If you offer him 3 @30 he’d probably break a leg taking it. That’s likely his value is a true market. Next year projects to be a weak starting pitcher market so he may sneak up to an AAV of 12 but the 14m that’s going to be the qualifying offer is a huge over pay. I could actually see the Phillies offering him 3 @ 11. Hallady will be gine and I expect Papelbon to be a Tiger soon.
        Maholm’s good start shouldn’t hide what he is, a 4th starter who’ll nudge 200 innings and is having a good year and will 32 next season. If as I expect we offer Huddy a contract there won’t be room for him anyway is everyone is healthy.

        • Benjamin Chase

          Maholm will likely be the best pitcher on the market, and while he may not get $13.5-14 per, he also knows that he’s hitting the market with his last chance for a multi-year, significant deal. I believe he’ll only get a 3-4 year, $10-12M per deal as well, but he’d be foolish to accept one year at $13.5 when he could have a multi-year guaranteed contract as a 30+ year-old back-end starter. Kyle Lohse is a perfect example of comparison, and he got 3/$33M as a righty.

          • fireboss

            Garza will be the best pitcher on the market. Maholm will be paid well however.

          • Benjamin Chase

            That’s debatable…talent-wise, absolutely, but Garza has some major injury issues that would worry me as a team acquiring him. I’ve followed Garza closely as I was a fan of his in the Twins system, but he has enough injury and “make up” stuff that Maholm could be the highest-valued guy on the market this offseason.

          • fireboss

            I suppose some GM desperate for pitching could over pay for him but unless his agent made it perfectly clear they wanted a 5 years or the answer is no I cannot see the Braves risking he’d accept a 14M offer. I’m betting on Giants, 3 years (4 in a pinch) at 10.5M option for one more. he’s their kind of arm to support Cain and Bumgarner after they lose Voglesong, Zito and Tim.

          • Benjamin Chase

            I almost would guarantee he wouldn’t touch that qualifying offer unless he believes the Braves would give him a multi-year deal. Why take $14M when you will be guaranteed $40M?

          • fireboss

            He won;t get a QO but he might take it and hope for another good year after what happened to Lohse and Bourn. Hoinestly though anything over 10 a year is an over pay for him

          • Benjamin Chase

            We’ll have to agree to disagree on Maholm’s financial intentions then. I can’t imagine he’d ever pass up the extra $26M.

          • fireboss

            moot point, Braves won’t offer him 14M

          • Benjamin Chase

            If he won’t take it, then they absolutely should offer and run away like a giddy school girl with the extra draft pick. Offer him the qualifier, make it known you have no intentions to offer even a two-year contract, and he’ll walk away. The Giants would be a perfect fit in that scenario as they won’t care about the qualifying offer most likely as they’ll offer one to one or more of their free agents. Lohse had to wait a while to sign, but he got $39M in the end. Pitching will always get paid, and if Maholm finishes the season with the same ratio stats as he currently is carrying, he’ll easily make $40M+.

          • fireboss

            If you go back and look you asked why he would take it. I said he MIGHT if he wanted to avoid the Lohse/Bourn situation. I did not say that I believed he would take it. If you look at my best guesses at his AAV 3 @ 33 from the Phillies (which would likely have to be at least a vesting option for 4) or perhaps the same kind of offer from the Giants, he comes in at your $40M. So we are close enough to be in agreement on his AAV in the open market.
            I would also agree that if his mindset is a quick sign and security he’s more likely to accept a discounted Braves offer than a one year QO just to stay in Atlanta where he’s had success. If the Braves (or Huddy) decide Hudson is retiring (barring injury he’s said he wants to pitch a couple more years) then I could see the Braves offering him a Huddy like deal of 4 @ 36 to be a 200 innings a year guy. If the Huddy decision comes after the quiet period Maholm will go on the market.

  • Lee Trocinski

    Welcome aboard Benjamin. First off-topic, where in SD are you from? I live in WI, but my mom grew up by Mobridge.

    Next winter is going to be really tough for ATL, unless they’re willing to further gut their weak farm system. There are no prime prospects left, so it’s going to take multiple players to get an impact piece. Another SP is probably needed, at least of a #2 quality.

    B.J. and Uggla really hamper any flexibility, even if they start to be who we thought they were. Gattis is probably closer to J.P. Arencibia in the long run, which would make us miss McCann. Right now, there’s absolutely no obvious way to attack the roster.

    • Benjamin Chase

      I’m from the Huron area. I work in Huron and live just outside. Thanks for the welcome!

      Catcher to me could be very interesting with the reappearance of Christian Bethancourt’s bat this season. With his defensive wizardry and Gattis’ bat, the Braves could have an incredible combo at catcher with Laird there to tutor them both. I think it’d be wise to get Gattis some time with other gloves this offseason to see if we could put him in the lineup 4-5 days a week instead of just having a super-power pinch hitter.

  • fireboss

    Gilmartin may never be a major league starter. He’s blowing a 5.40 ERA and a 1.6+ WHIP. Ks are steady at about 6 per 9 but walks are up again this year. He projects as a bottom of the rotation guy anyway and with J.R Graham and Alex Wood blowing heat he’s an expendable piece.

    EOF will be nontendered and I suspect Martinez will as well and we’ll watch Reed Johnson walk off into the sunset IF he stays with us the rest of the season.. If the Braves are smart (they rarely are when it comes to $$) they’ll bump Freddie more than you project and Minor will get close to $2M if he continues to pitch like a 2.

    If Heyward continues to play like the 2011 version of Domonic Brown his bump shouldn’t be that high but he will get it anyway. Not sure they even offer Janish a contract with Pena and Pastornicky around.

    They will look for bullpen help, hopefully not the kind of veteran presence we’ve seen before and a backup RH outfielder who can play first base.

    Finally I think Uggla can be traded.. I know no one believes it but I suspect it can be done.

    • Benjamin Chase

      I agree about Gilmartin, but he’s had rough patches before and bounced back. I was giving him the benefit of the doubt there.

      EOF is a free agent, so he’s almost certainly gone.

      Heyward’s bump is less than comparable guys taking into consideration inflation. I figured his WAR by second year of arby, and factored in his age, and it basically spit out a $6M figure at me, minimum. He’s been playing very well this month, though, so he could finally be back on the right track after his emergency surgery laid him up.

      Freeman is in arby, but only in his first year. He really will only make about $3-5M that first year. Being smart with money and extending him could save a lot of money, but more likely because they get him at $3M for 2014 and lower costs for 2015-2016 through his arby years.

      Minor isn’t arbitration eligible. He shouldn’t see more than $1M before he hits arbitration, unless they decide to sign him to an extension (not a route I’d go with any pitcher, frankly).

      I can see not signing Janish completely, but that would likely just mean another outfielder or third catcher on the roster, for likely around the same cost or less, so not a huge difference in the final numbers.

      • fireboss

        They will pay Minor as a reward if they stick to their prior pattern. Hanson makes 3.25 million this year and isn’t arb eligible until next. it’s a way of letting them know they appreciate the work and theoretically building loyalty. The latter is a myth these days but giving Minor the 1.1 Martinez might have earned isn’t an issue if they replace him with another minor league long man,
        I’ve seen the arb estimators but those estimates are based on him having last year again. If he has 2011 again that number drops, He will get it because he is “The Heyward” who must not be doubted however earning it hasn’t yet happened. We do need it to happen if we’re going to do more than wave at the WS winners this year

        • Benjamin Chase

          Hanson had his first arbitration year this year, which is why he’s paid like he is this season. His pre-arby salaries were $435K, 456.5K, and 535K. Hanson was pretty adamant that he wanted $3M plus, which is why he was traded this offseason.

          • fireboss

            He was traded because he wasn’t listening to the coaches and I think they believe his shoulder could implode at any time, The projected Super Two cutoff is 2 years 119 days(2.119). At the beginning of this year Minor had 1.138. he accrues time as long as he’s on the 25-man roster,the 15 or 60-day DL or the suspended list. Barring something unexpected he’ll be a super two

          • Benjamin Chase

            If he’s a super 2, then he’ll likely make 2.5-3.5M, not in a good faith gesture, but as what they’ll have to pay as part of the process.

    • http://tomahawktake.com/ carpengui

      Even if Uggla can be traded, then who replaces him? Pastornicky? That’s a real risk…and his 5 errors/53 games is not an improvement either. Yes, he’s hitting .319, but you can’t presume that this BA and OBP (.363) will beat Uggla’s. Furthermore, you wouldn’t want to run with him into the playoffs. So if you wanna move Dan, it’s gotta be in December.

      • fireboss

        Really depends who you get for him doesn’t it?

  • cheadrick

    i think there are two viable trade options, but of course it’s anyone’es GUESS. I think Huddy is a viable trade. He’s given some indication this could be his last year, and some indication he would love to continue. I think he wants to be a Brave though, so who knows. The risk there is whether anyone bites for the veteran, and whether we can get a viable reliever for him, which is what Wren has indicated they will go after. I agree with Fred, that Uggla is another, and better option by far. Uggla has some value, but it’s decreasing annually, and if he’s going to be on the block, I think now is the time. I don’t think that will happen, but it should.