June 1, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Tim Hudson (15) pitches in the first inning against the Washington Nationals at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

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

Tags: Atlanta Braves FanSided

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