The Atlanta Braves were set to "go for it" this year. Is that still true?
Aside from letting Josh Donaldson walk away (which seems like the right call now), the Atlanta Braves certainly did try to spend the big money last Winter.
Do you remember last Winter at this point? Really feels like it happened about 2 years ago instead of just 6-to-7 months back, doesn't it?
Let's review. Here are the bigger free agents that Atlanta acquired... way back then:
- Nov. 8: Darren O'Day (re-upped)
- Nov. 14: Will Smith
- Nov. 19: Chris Martin (re-upped)
- Nov. 24: Travis d'Arnaud
- Dec. 4: Cole Hamels
- Jan 21: Marcel Ozuna
- Jan 22: Felix Hernandez
So much money was being committed that we were actually talking seriously about much room the Braves still had under the luxury tax threshold. Really.
Funny how things change. But as teams have experienced a Spring and early Summer with virtually no income (yet a lot of continuing expenses), we'll soon find out who still has the cash to use.
That's why a comment from Atlanta Braves General Manager Alex Anthopoulos is a bit intriguing. It's part of this interview snippet gleaned from MLB Radio yesterday:
Sure. Part of me wants to say "yes - absolutely" because more teams should still be in contention (particularly if the MLB/MLBPA can get together on an expanded playoff arrangement).
However, part of me also wonders if there will be a bunch of the 'usual suspects' who will use this Summer to try and dump salary. Especially this year.
Amid that, though: would Anthopoulos suggest something sounding that aggressive if his Braves were cash-poor?
He's got a club capable of winning a World Series. He's also repeatedly espoused the notion that if you get to the playoffs, you don't take that for granted: you do what you can to win, for such opportunities are to be respected.
So the real question is this: while the Braves spent last Winter like a team on a mission, will they still be able to spend as necessary at the August 31 deadline?
For certain, players will be cheaper to obtain - especially those on expiring contracts. The pro-rated salaries will ensure that.
Example: One of those $18 million contracts (like Hamels and Ozuna got), pro-rated over 30 games, comes to $3.3 million. That's going to be affordable for several clubs.
Many the Braves will be one of them? From Anthopoulos' words, it sounds like it's possible.