March 5, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; Atlanta Braves general manager Frank Wren prior to the game during spring training against the New York Yankees at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

First Look: Braves Budget for 2014 (update below)

Memo to self:  We really need to find somebody who can take a new pic of Frank Wren.

The MLB Trade Rumors site has developed a wonderful tool for fans:  they can project (with a high degree of accuracy) the kinds of arbitration figures that players might expect to receive in the next several months.  Yesterday, their projections for the Atlanta Braves were published.  This allows us to get a quick look as what might be in store – or in the wallet – for the roster come next season.

Note:  there are a boatload of arbitration-eligible guys on the roster this coming year:  thirteen of them.  That will certainly make life a little interesting for Frank Wren & Co.

Warning!  I’m about to show you a chart of a projected 25-man roster for 2014.  This chart is based on several assumptions – many of which will not come to pass.  Furthermore, you may very well not agree with the assumptions made:  that’s perfectly fine – your mileage may vary.  But I will at least tell you what the assumptions are so that you can still use this as a tool for thinking about what Frank Wren might want to do in putting together a team for next year.

Those assumptions are…

  • No drastic trades at this point.  That means, for instance, that Dan Uggla is shown on this chart.  He’s also there because he has a contract and the Braves will have to pay him as things stand today.
  • Tim Hudson will be re-signed.
  • Eric O’Flaherty will be allowed to walk away as a free agent.
  • Brian McCann will be allowed to walk away as a free agent.
  • Luis Ayala will be allowed to walk away as a free agent.
  • Jonny Venters will be tendered a contract, although I will be surprised if he’s pitching regularly before July.
  • Reed Johnson‘s 2014 Contract option will not be picked up.  He will be owed a $150K buyout.
  • Cristhian Martinez will be non-tendered.
  • Paul Janish will be non-tendered.
  • None of the myriad of pitchers we picked up after July 2013 will be retained.

 

That Chart

Contracts2014

(click to see a bigger version for better readability)

 

Answering Questions/Pre-empting a Few Arguments

Yeah.  Let me explain a few things first:

  • I don’t frankly care how many pitchers are on this list or whether all of the positions are nicely covered for depth.  The last 8 lines in this chart (18-25) are just “slots” for the purposes of figuring a rough budget obligation.  So whether one of those slots is named “David Hale” or “Christian Bethancourt” or “Tommy La Stella“…. I don’t really care.  Whoever actually gets that slot will still make the major league minimum salary, set to be $500K for 2014.
  • Bold salary figures are known quantities.  All others are subject to change… though I didn’t bother to bold the minimum salary slots since we don’t really know how many of those there will be.
  • MLBTR’s arbitration figures were used where applicable.  Note, however, that they admit Craig Kimbrel “broke” their calculator.  They have no idea where his arbitration figure will end up… so they guessed $7.25m, but admitted that it could end up higher.
  • I made one exception to the list of player with renewable pre-arb contracts:  I kicked Andrelton Simmons up to $550,000 because I’m a really nice guy and because the Braves will often do something like that for their best youngsters.
  • Note that Freddie Freeman‘s figure is higher than Jason Heyward‘s.  That’s because of the production each player had in 2013, despite the fact that Jason is ahead of Freddie in service time.  It happens.  But blame MLBTR for the numbers.
  • If Wren is successful in persuing any longer term deals with any of these guys, then all bets are off for this chart.
  • Yeah, I know the Braves are a National League club.  What position does El Oso Blanco really play??

 

On the Record

  • According to Cot’s Contracts (via Baseball Prospectus), the Braves’ 2013 opening day roster had a total payroll of $90,039,583.
  • I have a different figure for that because I added B.J. Upton‘s $3 million signing bonus – paid before Jan 1, 2013 – onto his 2013 salary.  The Cot’s spreadsheet spreads out that money over the life of the contract.
  • BaseballReference.com pretty much left that bonus out when accounting B.J.’s deal.
  • As a result, I show the 2013 payroll as $92.4m.  As you can see, the above chart projects a slightly lower figure – for now.

 

Funds for 2014?

  • Last year, public statements were made (from levels above Frank Wren’s pay grade) that the Braves’ payroll could rise to around $98 million for 2013.
  • For 2014, approximately $23 million of new ESPN money (finally) kicks in… for all teams.  I do not expect the team to suddenly have a $121 million payroll by bumping it up exactly $23m. More likely, I would expect something around $112-115m max.  Either way, there should be plenty available, given the current makeup of the roster.  A new budget figure for 2014 will probably be bandied about in another ~5 weeks around the winter meetings.

——–

>>> NEW INFO 10/31:  Beat reporters have heard that the budget figure may be around $100 million (Mark Bowman/Dave O’Brien sources).  That’s frankly underwhelming, and means that unless something fairly substantial is being planned, there’s truly not a lot available beyond the projection of $92.4 million shown above.

——–

  • There are few big-money free agents out there worth going after; and the Braves have even fewer obvious holes to fill.  We’ve discussed getting an ‘Ace’ pitcher, and if that becomes possible, then that’s likely what any additional monies would be spent on.
  • I have speculated the Tim Hudson will be re-signed.  If not, then take an immediate $8 million off of the projected $91.8m figure from above.
  • I have speculated that Jonny Venters will be tendered a deal.  That one is probably a bit more “iffy” (in my mind) than Tim Hudson’s return, given that he will not be ready to go for a while.  But there’s $2.3m that could be saved otherwise.
  • There is lots of speculation about dumping Dan Uggla’s salary.  My gut feel on this topic is that the team really doesn’t want to go there… certainly not for the projected $20m cost to do so.  I could see a Very Good prospect going with him (somewhere) to lower that cost to something more manageable.  Even so, saving as much as $10m on the $26.4m still owed Dan is likely not to happen… $6-8m max, I expect.  But if the Braves keep him, you see the cost of doing so indicated above.

 

So there’s the first guess:  big changes in personnel are possible, but not a lot of overall budget/spending changes are likely.  Arbitration raises will dominate the spreadsheet activity.  We’ll see how it all plays out.

 

Tags: Arbitration Braves Payroll Budget Payroll

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