Attentive Braves fans will know not to get their hopes up too much based upon the team’s first early moves. The club got out ahead of the market last year as well, but mostly sat out after making its primary moves. In Alex Anthopoulos’s second year as GM, he has done even more volume right off the bat but hasn’t matched last year’s Josh Donaldson signing in terms of dramatic impact.
- Will Smith: three years, $40MM (includes buyout of $13MM club option)
- Chris Martin: two years, $14MM
- Tyler Flowers: one year, $4MM
- Nick Markakis: one year, $4MM
- Darren O’Day: one year, $2.25MM (includes buyout of $3.5MM club option)
That’s exactly $30MM in 2020 salary — possibly enough to preclude a more significant payroll addition. The Braves are now over $100MM in commitments for the season to come, which is approaching the limits for an organization that has never topped $122MM in Opening Day payroll and started shy of that figure in each of the past two seasons.
So does this mean that the Braves won’t end up adding a new star to the roster? Maybe! But they’re actually still well positioned to do just that, in one of several ways. The Braves can still play near the upper reaches of the free agent market if they shed some salary. In particular, it wouldn’t be much trouble to move the contracts of Ender Inciarte and Shane Greene (the latter could also be non-tendered if it came to it) if the team prefers to spend elsewhere. That could free something like $14MM in cash. And there’s still also the trade market, through which the Braves can convert prospect capital into lower-salaried talent.
What’s notable about this early run of spending and roster decisions, then, isn’t so much that it means the Braves boosted their relief corps over other moves. Rather, it’s that the Braves — of all teams — have now compiled a rather strong, not especially cheap collection of old guy relievers.
That’s part-joke, part god’s honest truth. The move toward grizzled hurlers began at the 2019 deadline, when Martin, Greene, and Mark Melancon came aboard. Here’s the Opening Day 2020 age and salary of the Braves pen as presently constituted:
- Mark Melancon, 35, $14MM
- Will Smith, 30, $13MM
- Chris Martin, 33, $7MM
- Shane Greene, 31, $6.5MM (projected)
- Darren O’Day, 37, $2MM
- Luke Jackson, 28, $1.9MM (projected)
- Grant Dayton, 32, $800K (projected)
Conspicuously absent from that list: homegrown young hurlers. Sean Newcomb may yet end up in the pen if he isn’t needed or deemed capable of handling a rotation spot. Regardless, it’s certainly not the bullpen look that would’ve been anticipated this time last year. It’s really an interesting shift in approach; even a few weeks ago, it still seemed safe to presume the Braves were still planning on utilizing a rotating cast of younger pitchers to fill out the rotation. Indeed, I wrote that the Braves could “consider their bullpen fully accounted for” after inking O’Day. Wrong!
That is a strong pen on paper. That’s welcome after a messy 2019. Smith has blossomed into one of the game’s better overall relievers. It still feels surprising the Braves took on Melancon’s full remaining salary, but he was very strong overall in 2019. Martin obliterated the rest of the sport with a 13.0 K/BB ratio last year. The peripherals were also excellent for Jackson, even if he faltered at times. O’Day and Dayton have been good before and showed signs of recapturing their form. Though Greene’s late-season run with the Braves wasn’t quite what might’ve been hoped for, it was hardly a disaster and he ended the season with a cumulative 2.30 ERA.
That said, it must be a bit disappointing for the Braves that they’ve ended up needing to commit this kind of cash to get where they feel comfortable in the relief unit. The waves of young arms have thus far largely disappointed outside of a few notable exceptions. The idea had been that the club’s best starting pitching prospects would not only form up an imposing rotation but spill over into the bullpen, linking up with the team’s short-inning pitching prospects to create an overwhelming overall staff.
But this may just set the stage for the next big moves from Anthopoulos. Quite a few young Braves pitchers still hold promise. Not all will get their chance to chase their ceilings in Atlanta. This year’s slate of players requiring Rule 5 protection has pushed the Braves roster nearly to full capacity with other players still to be added. There’s still plenty of talent pressure coming from lower down the farm system, reducing the available opportunities.
I think you see where I’m heading with this. Without bullpen slots available to run out young pitchers, and without ample payroll capacity remaining, the Braves now seem clearly positioned to swap out talented but not-yet-established hurlers for veterans that can make a near-term impact on the MLB roster. When the dust settles, the Braves will still have plenty of pitching depth — some of which will surely end up carrying a significant portion of the relief load this year even after the recent signings — and a good bit of high-end talent still rising. But some of the arms will end up elsewhere. Which? That’s hard to guess. In theory, dozens of Atlanta hurlers — especially those already taking up space on the club’s 40-man roster — could be talked about in trades.
I think it is far more likely that the Braves will increase their payroll this year. They still need a catcher, a starting pitcher and a top bat like Donaldson.
Trade for Lindor- Swanson, Waters, and Touki OR Wilson OR Wright
Sign MadBum- mentor Fried and Newcomb, Newcomb to be SP
Sign Moustakas and Cervelli
Trade for Betts- Duvall, Inciarte, and Touki OR Wilson OR Wright
The trade for Lindor is intriguing, not sure if that’s enough.
The Betts trade is bad, no chance the Red Sox give that half a second of thought.
Trading for one of Lindor or Betts will cost way too much in prospect capital, muchless trading for both. Plus neither of those trades will be enough to land either of them.
Cleveland is looking for the main piece to be MLB ready and controllable in 2020 and Waters will not be ready to start 2020. Cleveland would say no. Atlanta’s best pieces, although interesting, do not meet the Indians immediate needs.
wait, Wait, WAIT — hold the phone — back the truck up!
Did I just see someone suggest a package including Adam friggin’ Duvall for MOOKIE “Career-42-WAR” BETTS…? That package better include the release of the hostages.
You might I say MIGHT get a betts trade done with this package of Pache, Anderson, Inciarte, and greene.
For 1 year of control I don’t think so
Braves aren’t doing that. That’s a lot of capital for a 1 year rental, at the expected salary he’s going to command.
Not for ONE YEAR of Betts control. You do know he will be a UFA in 2020
You guys are hilarious. I completely understand Betts is one of the best players in the game but it’s for ONE YEAR OF CONTROL. Zero chance the Sox will get anything close to that for Betts. I would not trade Pache straight up for him unless their was a guarantee of an extension and no chance AA would either.
Who said anything about Pache? He would be used as a possible trade piece for Lindor who has two years of control. Duvall, Inciarte and Tookie maybe for one year of Betts.
Dude, Betts will pull in $27,700,000. You ain’t moving him with multiple Major pieces going back
My response was not to you it was to Rangers29. Be said Pache+Anderson+Greene+Inciarte for one year of Betts. Hilarious
The drugs in your area must be wonderful to assume those deals would get done. I like the pieces, but we dont have enough talent depth to get both Betts and Lindor especially if you are trying to use Duvall, Inciarte and Touki…Duvall is a AAAA player, Inciarte is an average starter and Touki is lower end of our prospects.
To get Lindor or Betts, you should expect sending Pache/Waters, Ian Anderson, Kyle Mueller and one of our 2 catchers. On top of that its essentially getting rentals.
Resign JD or sign Moose.
Sign Castro to catch.
Sign Bumgardner or trade for Kluber. You can basically get one high level trade piece before its gutting the farm.
Since Kluber has 2 more years it would probably be Waters, Mueller and Wright. I just think it’s so dang hard to be a GM. I’m very happy we have Alex. During his tenure he hasn’t made any egregious errors. May not have been perfect or quite enough, but we never hurt ourselves under his watch. I think now with more money and a couple years experience with Albies, Soroka Acuna and Swanson the core is experienced enough to push chips in.
G. Cole…the absolute perfect addition for our team.
Sign JD or Moose. OR let Riley/Camargo play 3rd and upgrade for an OF bat. Say Marte, Haniger.
Can I have your former MVP for this collection of mediocrity? Please!
Duvall, Inciarte and Tookie for Betts? From your lips to God’s ears. Maybe the Sox can throw in Sale for Newcomb while we’re at it.
You’re right about his Betts trade proposal being ridiculous but I bet the Sox would take Newcomb for Sale deal just to get rid if that contract. They owe Sale $145 million over the next 5 years. That extension was so bad it got the GM that signed it fired. The worst part is they didn’t even need to do it. They would have still had him last season. If they had to do it over again I’m sure the only offer Sale would get from the Sox now would be the QO. They would probably do the same thing to get rid of Price’s ridiculous contract as well. They paid $362 million to two injury prone pitchers that both started drastically underperforming as soon as they got their big payday. Anthopolous would have just bought 3 Ronald Acuna’s and an Ozzie Albies for that kinda money. He would have them both for about a decade and still had millions left over.
Atlanta simply doesn’t match up well for Betts. Atlanta has no bad contract to send either. $27m for Betts, and it’s going to take a lot better names from Atlanta to Boston for that one.
I just don’t see it.
Every year we do this. Every year there is a star one year rental and then several posters talk about the huge haul that one year rental will return.
Assuming Betts and Lindor get traded lets hope everyone who thinks either of these stars will draw 2 top 50 prospects and another top 100 will finally see that their expectations for what 1 year rentals go for has to change.
Lindor is not a one year rental. He has two years of control.
Just looked it up. My bad, you’re right.
Yeah. That extra year and the fact that Lindor hasn’t openly stated he is bent on testing the market like Betts is makes a big difference. I would offer Swanson, Tooki and either Wilson or Wright for Lindor. I would throw in all 4 if they allowed the Braves to negotiate an extension with him before the trade is finalized. I’m not touching Mookie with a ten foot poll unless it’s late in the offseason and the Sox start getting desperate.
Cleveland’s strength is starting pitching. They are not trading Lindor for Swanson and three more pitchers. That has no chance of happening.
I tend to agree, 41em. With a 3B, C, and potential front line SP, they will still need to spend more money. The income reportedly produced at SunTrust Park and the Battery has been staggering. It isn’t a stretch to bump payroll up to $140m with the large jumps is revenue being generated. I love the bullpen improvements and find it is money well spent.
Nope. They have been generating plenty of money since Sun Trust opened and they have been reinvesting money to their loans. Haven’t seen any huge increase in payroll huh ?
I’d have to say Donaldson should absolutely be resigned. Looking at his numbers. 2 year same rate. Plus a third option or vesting however way they wanna do it. He put up great numbers last year.
94 runs. 100 walks. Plus the power. And not too sure about his defense. But his overall WAR was 6.1 must have been good.
Big Green Egg
His D was excellent. Much better than I anticipated.
his glove surprised me more than anything
Big green egg, you’re just baiting people with that comment.
How many games did you see? Hopefully all of them.
Agree Donaldson put up great numbers, played fantastic defense, fit in perfectly with this team, and should be re-signed; but definitely don’t think 2 years gets it done… I’m guessing it takes a 4 year deal, maybe 3 w/ a higher AAV
The Chris Martin contract reminds me of the Anthony Swarzak contract after a single good year. It will end equally as well.
Martin had some eye popping numbers whereas Swarzak never did.
Not before 2019. That was eye rolling.
10 runs in the first inning must have left a bad taste in AAs mouth. Might as well give Pomeranz and Bentances a look. Starters would only need to go 4-5 innings.
Then shouldn’t they get better starters who don’t give up 10 runs in an inning. Folty is so fragile mentally it’s gonna bite the braves once again.
Right. He was so angry that his STARTER gave up 10 runs in the top of the first that he hired a bunch of relief pitchers to bring in after the damage is already done were it to happen again.
If we ultimately let go of a bullpen piece via trade or cut, I’m hoping Luke Jackson over Shane Greene. Got to think Jackson can at least bring back some cash if not some lower tier minor league capital or international money (if we are allowed). I think we can all agree Shane Greene is the better of the two options and Braves fans have turned Jackson’s name into a curse word
I believe the Brave are setting up to spend a lot more money then anyone expected. The payroll has always been based on the revenue they bring in. Since the opening of suntrust and the team being relevant again the revenue is up. Oh and that guy named Acuña brings in a lot of cash.
Should be mentioned how nice it is of O’Day to take a low salary given how much he’s pilfered from the Braves since they acquired him in 2018. Presuming he’s healthy, I’d expect he could have gotten paid more elsewhere. Nice guy to finish the business he left undone.
And if he’s not healthy, nice of the Braves to keep pumping the dough into his retirement fund.
Why does there always have to be a caveat about them? Why couldn’t you have just said, The Braves suddenly have a very good bullpen? You had to throw in “But Aging”
Because the whole point of the post was that the bullpen was built on older pitchers acquired from outside the organization, not the young guys that were expected to ascend and fill out most of the needed roles.
Then, if the point of the post is that the bullpen is built on older guys from outside the organization and not the prospects as we thought they would be by now, then write a headline that says, ‘The Braves suddenly have a good bullpen, but not how you expected’, no, it had to be a good BUT aging pen. There are so many ways that title could have been written that would have expressed the sentiment you were trying to get across, but that title just reads, they are good but old. Doesnt relay anything about who we thought would be filling in roles in the pen at this point.
Vandals Took The Handles
Agree that it’s a bit of a swipe at the Braves.
Fact is that if a bullpen guy has to get 4 outs in one game, it’s make out to be an enormous challenge. Bullpen guys are quite effective well into their 30’s. Jackson, Minter, and Webb are still relatively young – and Webb looks like a possible future closer.
Also keep in mind that the Braves rebuild has produced multiple starting pitching candidates, some that are trying to make the ML roster. Obviously not all of them are going to succeed in the next 2-4 years, so some of them will be tried in the bullpen. (Touki Toussaint looks to me like he’d have a higher ceiling pitching out of the bullpen.) As the older relievers are let go at the end of their contracts, the younger guys will be rotated in.
Most bullpen guys are failed starters that throw for an inning; cutting back to only throw the pitches that are effective for them. Most throw between 60 and 80 innings a year. It’s not like they’re being asked to throw 200 innings. In the current environment, too much emphasis is being placed on how hard a pitcher throws (probably because that is now routinely measured). Movement, location, and changing speed matters more. Veterans have been extremely effective using their experience.
It’s hard to write good, concise headlines. Did my best.
Vandals Took The Handles
What’s missing in this discussion is that bullpen pitchers are the most volatile category of a ML team.
Mets thought they had a deep, killer bullpen going into 2019. The limped to the finish line with 2 guys they could count on – Lugo and Wilson. Nationals bullpen looked awful most of the season. But the GM/FO and manager/pitching coach developed guys and made trades until they found what worked coming down the stretch – then used some starters in short relief in the playoffs.
It seems to me the Braves are playing a numbers game with the bullpen. Like a jockey bringing in a horse, the object is to try some things with what you have as you position yourself going into the final turn. In the stretch run you know what works and what doesn’t. Use what works.
As for numbers – if the manager of a contending team has 3 relief pitchers he can trust during the end of stretch run (and playoffs), that’s all he really needs.
It really isn’t a swipe at the Braves. I stated clearly that I think it’s a good pen, just not compiled the way they expected. And that has implications for the other things the team is looking to do this winter. That was the purpose of the post.
Vandals Took The Handles
Always have liked and respected you. My fave on MLBTR.
I understand the limitations of headline writing.
Please follow me here……
As in other things in American media – there seem to be some people that can do no wrong, and others that can do no right.
The Braves have had an impressive rebuild, and are setting up to have a sustainable run for 5-7 years. Yet people are not seeing that. GM’s such as Epstein and Preller are sexy. They’ve painted themselves into a corner over the past few years, while being celebrated with each move. Meanwhile, the Braves seem to be questioned when they sign Mankakis for a small contract to serve as a 350-400 AB guy in 2020, and now for bringing in veterans at nice salaries (not obscene salaries) to pitch out of the bullpen over the next year or two. Those are smart, measured moves, without limiting what the FO can do in the next few years as they find out which young players can contribute and which cannot.
Were there headlines about moves Epstein and Preller made that were put it what appears to be a negative light? I don’t believe so.
Best to you.
You always come up with BS excuses on why you wrote something in a condescending way. Be honest, you don’t like the Braves do you? I’ve kind of gotten that starting around last season. I can’t remember if it’s you or Steve but one of you is a huge Nats fan, so it would make sense you would throw in some half-jabs along with your applause. (Something a Phillies fan would do honestly) Maybe if this was the first time you might be believable..but something tells me the Braves as a team upsets you in a certain way.
You got stones. Serious tip of the cap to you for your name. Not saying its smart way to express your sentiment, or that I agree with it, but recognizing the boldness. Thats bold.
Thank you for your kind words. I’m not upset here, just trying to explain …
I don’t know what to tell you other than: I really wasn’t proffering any kind of negative observation about the team. I woke up this morning with no news and was thinking about what had happened already and how it shaped what was to come. Nobody has done much of anything except the Braves, who have signed 3 veteran relievers. How might that impact their offseason? I kind of wrote the post as I thought through the matter, and then put together a reasonably concise title that tried to convey the core of the observation I was working from.
If and when I have an observation to make about the Padres or Yankees or any other team, I suppose I’ll follow a similar process. We don’t go around making hot takes or ripping off opinions in headlines and this wasn’t intended in that manner.
Jeff, aren’t we all “but aging”?
Making factual observations is condescending? Mmkay.
I hate all NL East bullpens equally. https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2019/08/mlbtr-poll-the-nl-east-bullpen-experience.html
Indeed. I’m juuuuuuust younger than O’Day.
Funny how my last comment is awaiting moderation. Anyways, that article has nothing to do with what you’re doing here. I don’t think the last signings they made on 2 relievers is a bad thing, yet you try to turn it into one. I’m not concerned at all about the “Aging bullpen”. Someone will no doubt have a bad season, like any other position on the field. Having the depth is probably a reason why they’re doing it, and maybe they don’t want to be in a situation like they were last season at the trade deadline, where they have to make desperation trades to address it. (At least that’s what I took from the AA interview the other day) Judging by others here it isn’t just me that caught a bad vibe in the way your wrote this. I do find it funny though how you try to insinuate we don’t understand your point. This isn’t the first time you’ve wrote an article like this on the Braves. I don’t consider myself to be a homer, but I’m not seeing this kind of stuff on other teams.
Do you honestly think I’m sitting here looking for your comments and then putting them in moderation? You must have done something to trigger the filters, dude.
I am at an absolute loss on this. Have you actually read the post? There’s really not even a critique in what I wrote … I just was exploring how it makes for a surprisingly different direction to their offseason b/c it suggests they will use young pitchers as trade pieces.
Something a Phillies fan would do? You mean the highly intelligent and most passionate fans in sports? Ok then.
No, I don’t think you sat there putting them in moderation. But I guess the word azZ! triggers it. Sad.
Anyways, Yes I have read the post. Twice in fact. I’ve also noticed you edited it since then. But I give up. You’re right Jeff. I’m wrong. That’s always the way it is.
You’re right, azz triggers the filter. We will make this a one-time exception.
I literally made one edit: the one addressed earlier in these comments, to clarify what I meant by the team’s recent payroll history.
I may not be right in substance. Perhaps this post was junk. And I would not dispute that I have critiqued the Braves in the past — for their ballpark and Albies deal, in particular, and I’m sure I have not been afraid to note that their self-imposed payroll levels ought to be subject to scrutiny. But that doesn’t mean I have it out for the organization. And it doesn’t mean I was going for any subtle digs here, for the reasons I have now explained in exhaustive detail.
“You got stones. Serious tip of the cap to you for your name.”
(in reference to IHateJeffTodd)
Since when is being seriously anti-social a cause for admiration? I’m thinking your name, which is unintentionally mispelled, no doubt, is actually telling of your character.
Dude this is free content. No one told you you had to read it. Grow up and get a clue.
Did I say I agree with it?? Or you taking snipets to validate an invalid point?
Did I say I agree with it??” (re: IHateJeffTodd)
You tipped your cap to it.
“Serious tip of the cap to you for your name”
That’s agreement; admiration even.
Well, Self-“Liker”, the tip of the cap was for the boldness. Period. And it was clearly stated, but thanks for telling me what I intended.
Comprehend much? You know those remedial scores you got in reading comprehension in high school….there was a reason. Maybe thats why you feel the need to apply a self like immediately to your posts…..weak.
Wow… You actually “hate Jeff Todd?” How is that even possible. I can’t think of many people on the planet that I have ever hated and none of them would ever be a baseball writer whose articles I read and enjoy commenting on. Even if I were to disagree with him I don’t think I have enough hate in my entire body to even consider doing that. That’s a bit intense man.
Hey, Jeff. I was wondering if you thought the new 3 batter minimum rule change has had any influence on all these relief acquisitions the Braves have made recently. It seems like they are anticipating a drastic change in the game a a result. Especially with Will Smith. Does this end the era of LOOGY’S? How big of a factor do you think it played in all this considering all pitchers have to be able to get out both lefties and righties now?
I think you’re making a good point.
Braves fan here. I think we’re being a little to sensitive. Jeff was making an observation of the bullpens age. He also said he thinks its a good bullpen but we just ignored that and went straight into the perceived insult.
It is an older bullpen and I think part of the perceived insult is the industry view of older players but Jeff wasn’t bringing it up in that sense. Now that Jeff brought it up I wonder if Anthopoulos had an intention for setting it up this way. After all, aging isn’t as critical when you are a reliever. There isnt as many imnings on their arms.
I agree SalaryCapMyth. There may be a small point to be made but certainly nothing to take personally and go way over the top with. “IHateJeffTodd” is clearly in the wrong place and should just leave rather than stink the place up with his overblown tirades.
This site writes articles on rumors/things going on in baseball.
the Braves do have an AGING bullpen….it makes for a good read, so relax and go elsewhere if the headlines annoy you.
Oh, ok, because a Brewers fan NEVER gets upset about anything, huh.?
Shhhh guys, let’s all calm down or they’ll close the comments on this post too.
Missed your geritol this AM, Wilford?
That is one of my favorite parts about this site. Seeing which stories they “allow” comments on. Very entertaining
For me it’s seeing which posts the commenters go crazy on and make them lock the comments. It’s amazing how many angry people post here.
Have we ever closed the comments because someone is criticizing something we wrote? Go find me some examples.
I’ve explained many times that we close comments when the volume of comments infringing on our policies, and/or the nature of the discussion itself, make it impossible for us to monitor the discussion.
We don’t wish to have a bunch of nasty stuff sitting on the site, which means we have to police the comments and sometimes figure out where to draw lines. In some cases, that just isn’t possible when the person monitoring the comments is also actually making the content that appears on the site. In those cases, we just … can’t host the conversation, sorry.
Since when is agreeing with someone you disagree with boot licking? Lol
Kind of like saying, “The yankees have a great bullpen that has won them zero championships.” I agree with your sentiment, aging is unimportant, success is everything.
Aging is important because bullpen pieces, outside some notable exceptions, often have short useful lives and when they drop off, the regression is often fast, MUCH quicker than a SP or position player experience.
So yes, it’s notable they aren’t composed of internal youthful options but also for the fact that as good as they’ve been, it’s easily possible one or several become overpaid/ineffective due to t he nature of their position
They haven’t won a championship not because of their bullpen. They can only make up for their rotation so much.
FYI: WSH just won a championship with the regular season’s worst bullpen (by way of highest pen ERA and lowest strikeouts), yet they managed to find a savior in Daniel Hudson, get Doolittle to do a lot, and rely on their pricey but potent staff.
Kudos for the Doolittle comment!
Yeah, aging definitely is not a factor at all in professional sports.
Performance is everything. There are lots of examples of inconsistent young pitchers who gain consistency with age. There are lots of examples of relief pitchers being good in their later years. Pitching one inning every second or third game is not that demanding for even a 40 year old.
I admire your dedication to arguing that players don’t generally decline with age.
Always leave it to wayhayzee to be very hazy and reach out of his way to take an otherwise uncalled for swipe at the Yankees, ignoring the fact that just about that entire bullpen had significant injury issues along with the rest of the roster, to the point it was downright amazing they even made it into the postseason, unlike the Red Sox. Reminds me of the 9 year old Red Sox fans I grew up with, always venomous, disingenuous, dishonest and overeager to attack, many of whom still talk like 9-year-olds. Like wayhayzee.
Need those clicks!
Braves need a stronger pen. The bullpen is make or break down the stretch
I believe it has been bolstered because of the shortcomings last year but also to help the team because we will see a lot more of Wright and I think we will see Anderson get his chance fairly early in the season as well
As for the lineup I think the Braves can go one of 3 ways either acquire a marte type OF and sign moose or resign Donaldson or option 3 trade for Bryant the money would be similar with any of these
I really do not think that Kros Bryant will be traded until there is a decision about his free agency. Not saying it will go one way or the other…but the trade cost would be drastically different for 1 year then for 2.
Cubs could also move Contreras in a deal. AA is known for dealing prospects, and all signs point to a big deal in the works.
I really don’t want to think about what it would take to get them both I know it would be way more than I would want to see leave
They need a RH thumper for the middle of that lineup. Donaldson should be a priority and trading for Bryant makes sense. I like their moves so far. Maybe Newcomb and Pache for Bryant? As a Phillies fan their aggressiveness makes me nervous. Hope the Phils make a run at Cole and Rendon but I’d be happy with Moose, Wheeler and Hamels. Maybe trade for a CF like Marte, Buxton or Kiermaier.
Nope nope nope. Bryant will look great on the DL. Pache is a star. If they don’t sign Donaldson they have a fall back in Mous, which might not be the RH bat you’re talking about, but there’s always other options (i.e. Marte to cover CO, trading for Willson Contreras, etc.). He’s now going through arb, which means he’ll cost a lot to get, cost quite a bit in arbitration, and I don’t see him being an extension candidate. There’s other options.
I think Bryant would be the last option if Donaldson and moose both get taken
This year seems to have more 3B options than I can remember in a long time free agent/trade wise, lots of talent available this year
Pache isn’t going anywhere, nor should he. He’s the CF of the future, and if AA can play the cards right with Pache & Waters, they can lock them up similar to Albies’ deal and have a long-term OF setup.
Hell you can probably get Rendon for about the same AAV (just more years) as Donaldson so he should be an option also or they go the cheap rout with camargo/Riley which will hurt the top 3 in the lineups numbers
I don’t disagree, but if you take Rendon’s comments about wanting to sit on the couch with his kids at 36 y/o seriously, something tells me he’s going for a higher than normal AAV with a shorter-term deal. His agent is still Boras, so maybe that’s smoke-and-mirrors, but I can’t shake the thought of ATL somehow wrangling him and playing the same position for the same team of the guy he grew up idolizing (Chipper). And if that happened, could you imagine the ramifications in the NL East?! OH BOY! (Snap — Back to Reality).
The Braves did draft him before also so it would kind of make everything come full circle(we can dream big)
I’d give him a 3-4 year deal for high AAV. That gives Riley time to make or break, and Braves can focus on a draft pick or FA down the road to replace when Rendon retires.
Good reminder about Rendon. Personally, I wouldn’t put $200MM+ into a guy who states up front that he considers it just a job, has little passion for it, and is looking to get out mid-career. Just my opinion.
(Those, btw, are all things I’ve read about him…)
Rendon will probably cost about 32 mil/yr while Donaldson will be about 25 mil/yr. Since the Braves still need a SP and C, that extra money will be important.
That’s not that much trade green or ender or both
I really like camargo as a player but he needs to play everyday the Braves really stunted his growth last year trying to make him a super utility type player and then snit didn’t even play him for really long stretches I honestly think he should be traded somewhere he can play every day
I think, IMO, if Donaldson isn’t resigned, they could/should put him at 3b full time. Let Riley get some exposure in MiLB and learn to hit a slider, and then give him some 3b time as well if he does good.
I’m not sure Moose is needed, but he could be attractive at a 2 year deal for $8-10m each. But Atlanta doesn’t really need another lefty hitter in the middle of the lineup.
I don’t think AA would go after Rendon, but I’d be for it.
I think Moose will go for more like $11-$13MM for a couple of years. $8-$10 if he could get 4 years, if he’d take the cut in AAV for the longer guarantee.
“The Braves are now over $100MM in commitments for the season to come, which is approaching the limits for an organization that has never topped $122MM in Opening Day payroll (or even reached that total in the past two seasons).“
This is just flat out wrong. They opened 2018 with a $120MM payroll and I believe it went higher. The 2019 payroll ended up over $130MM once we added Dallas, Melancon and Greene.
Yes they have been sitting around $120 mill opening day payroll the last 3 years and I think because of added money from the playoffs and things like that they will end up between $150-$160 mill this year
At the end of the year that is
I mean … Opening Day payroll is not the same as end of season payroll, which you seem to recognize. I was talking about what they might do this winter. Teams generally are willing to add more salary mid-season if circumstances warrant.
By Cot’s on Contracts method of calculating Opening Day payroll, the Braves were at 122 in 2017, 118 in 2018, and 115 in 2019.
Oh I see, your issue is with “reached.” Sorry. That was just phrased poorly. I was trying to refer to opening day payroll. Will edit.
The article suggests that the Braves’ payroll is not likely to rise above $120M, and just kind of leaves it at that. Is there any pushback in their local media and/or fanbase to go above that? The Braves were towards the bottom of the league last year in terms of percentage of revenue invested in payroll; they extorted a good stadium deal from the area, all while their parent company was bragging about how profitable the team was and reinvesting the profits into other ventures. It feels like they get a bit of a pass regarding payroll.. Even though they won the division last year, they didn’t go far into the playoffs; would some extra spending have potentially helped them go further?
The Nationals have paid tax on their payroll and the Nationals DO NOT have a TV contract.
The Braves have the worst TV contract in MLB
AND we have to listen to Chip Carey (and Joe Simpson, kind of). Please cut his mic and give more air-time to Francoeur and Glavine, please.
I’m still waiting on an investigated report on how all that went down, someone call “60 Minutes “.
the best thing about being out of market is I get to watch braves games on MLBTV and use the audio overlay function to hear the radio broadcasters instead
They air on MASN though and the courts have ruled that the Baltimore Orioles have to pay Washington many millions of dollars for their share of the network viewership. The money hasn’t cone through yet and it may take more time to go through appeals court but I think it’s eventually inevitable. It’s gotta be pretty hard for Baltimore to argue in court that 100% of people that watch Nationals games are actually confused about which team they are watching and really would prefer to watch San Orioles game instead. The Nationals are probably the biggest source of income for that network and are definitely a bigger source of income than the Orioles. The Orioles are gonna have to pay them. Every judge so far has ruled that. The only problem is that the court system is slow. I don’t get why they even share the same network. Why doesn’t DC just start their own network if your actually right and they aren’t under contract they should be able to do whatever they want, right? I know I wish the Braves weren’t under contract so we can finally start the Chop Network.
I’m pretty sure as part of the deal for them to retain ownership of the Braves all earnings have to be reinvested into the club in some form and they are allowed to use the team for tax purposes and the article is talking about opening day payroll they have ended the last 3 years around $135 or so but I think it’s going up this year
I don’t necessarily assume it completely, but have not seen any reason to believe otherwise based upon recent spending and indications from public comments and media reports.
I know AA said last offseason that the Braves have a pretty open budget. He said he just wanted to make sure the money is spent on the right people. I don’t think AA, McGuirk or Liberty Media view it as that have to spend even near a particular dollar amount any year. They just don’t want bad long term contracts that can “hamstring future payroll.” I think they didn’t really expect to spend like a contender until last off season and aside from the fact that they overestimated what last seasons opening day bullpen was capable of they also didn’t like the free agent options that were available last season. I know if they had given Machado $300 mill or Harper $330 mill last offseason, I would have been very disappointed in those players 2019 performance and even more disappointed that they were both going to eat up so much Braves salary for the next 9-12 years. Maybe Anthopolous saw that coming. Even I assumed that Harper wasn’t going to perform like the best free agent all time so I assume the Braves thought the same thing and felt like their was no reason to pay him like he would. The guy that probably would have helped th Braves the most is Corbin but AA likes to go after more of a Dodgers model and sign players to shorter term contracts. I don’t blame them for assuming that Corbin wasn’t going to perform well enough to be the highest paid AAV Braves player in history every year for the next six years. That contract doesn’t look so bad now but the Braves only want to pay guys when they are very good. We will have to see if he is still pitching like a $27 mill a year pitcher half a decade from now. Considering that is about $11 million more than any pitcher in Braves history, I kind of doubt it. He’s very good but I honestly don’t consider him a $27 mill a year pitcher now.
I also think I read somewhere that the Braves end of season payroll was around $144 million. There are some glaring needs at catcher, starting pitching, probably third base and maybe outfield that should be addressed before the season starts but it doesn’t really matter what opening day payroll is as much as full season. The Braves aren’t afraid to spend at the trade deadline and it’s probably smarter to figure out where the teams biggest needs are before they blow all the cash. If they had signed Harper or Corbin last year they wouldn’t have been able to afford the bullpen acquisitions that were desperately needed. If they had signed Machado they would have spent more money to get worse at 3rd base compared to Donaldson. If AA doesn’t get that bullpen help that he initially thought we didn’t need last season we might not even win the division.
As SunTrust & The Battery bring in more revenue, those funds are put towards the team. They’ve been doing well and making money, took care of some debt (last I recall reading) from STP and are starting to invest more into the team.
I think they’ll start the year around $130-135m
The Braves will up their payroll when they no longer consider themselves “rebuilding”. They had no reason to raise their payroll the last 5 years because they wanted to develop their own players. I wouldn’t take the last 5 years as an example of what they are or are not willing to do regarding payroll. I would say they have now accomplished the goal of obtaining and retaining the “homegrown”, cost effective players that every contender needs… IE Acuna, Albies, Swanson, Folty, Soroka, and Fried. All rather cheap and fill huge roles on a championship team. Step two in rebuilding is acquiring more COST AFFECTIVE, long term, guys who fill major roles. Step three is the major moves that put them over the top. We are still in steps one and two. We can accomplish two and three this offseason but don’t fret if we don’t. Bryant, Betts, Lindor… all great but not cost effective OR long term. I would assume they will go after a couple of guys like Merrifield (22M over 4 years) Eugenio Suarez (60M over 5 years) Luis Castillo (team control for 4 years). We need guys right now that contribute without breaking the bank. If they can trade for a couple of those type guys with our bevy of prospects, while still holding on to a couple of our guys like Pache and Anderson, they could build a dynasty. Imagine Suarez at 3B and Castillo as our #2 for only around 15M next year. I would give them Riley, Waters, Wright, Toussaint, and Wilson for them. If we only raised our payroll to league average (150M), we could still make a run at Cole with only a couple salary moves (Ender/Melancon/Green). Cole/Castillo/Soroka/Folty/Fried… yes please.
I really like Suarez depends on what it would really take to get him
Maybe Bauer and Suarez
They’re not rebuilding. They’ve got long-term commitments from 2 core pieces (Acuna, Albies) and cheap production from much of the rest. Considering the steady income in attendance, etc. from The Battery – LM has always stayed true that they would have an annual budget fall in line with their attendance – but it’s up to them to spend it, which is not to say that they will choose to spend it in free agency during an offseason. AA likes going into the season having some financial wiggle room to take on expiring deals to save on prospect capital going back (i.e. Melancon – smh). Considering how much they’ve been making at The Battery, their budget hasn’t gone up to fall in line with it. That being said, maybe this is the year that it does – seeing their window of contention and if the market is friendlier to sellers than in year’s past.
I can’t see CIN trading right now. They will be active on the FA market with a lot of money to spend with and I can’t see a relatively new GM (Krall) tearing it down, knowing that Votto’s not going anywhere and they’ve gotten out from under that Homer Bailey deal, finally.
Suarez may be available if they move Senzel back to 3B I’m not sure what the plan is with him I also think Atlanta is nearing an all in time frame and hopefully approach acuna and Albies are locked up for cheap freeman is getting older and it’s time now
Considering how reliant that offense was on Suarez last year, I can’t see them shedding that bat, unless they find someone to pair with Aquino AND Votto reestablishes himself as more than a walk machine.
Yes I agree it’s a stretch they do
I believe the Braves to be, as stated, in the 1st – 2nd phase of rebuilding. I say 1st because they still have minor guys that they haven’t brought up but also haven’t blocked or traded. They are waiting on at least 2 or 3 of these guys to fill roles, one way or another. I believe them to be approaching the 2nd phase bc they have FINALLY spent money on a player with a multi-year contract (Will Smith), without breaking the bank. You can’t say that a team is not rebuilding when they aren’t signing anyone of note long term aside from their own players. I love how they’ve “stayed the course” even while contending. I don’t know if CIN would trade those guys, but Castillo’s name keeps popping up in the rumor mill, so why not throw it out there? The specifics aren’t the point; I’m just saying, if I’m AA I would target a couple good/cheap players to trade for at this point in the rebuild. If I can’t trade, I hold. If I can, I do, and then spend big.
The Reds are supposedly going for broke so there’s no way they trade their linchpin guys.
Like last year
Yeah, I don’t know why they would unless they struck out in FA or something. Just an example. Call me crazy, but I would give Newcomb, Wright, Toussaint, Waters, Riley, Wilson, and Contreras for those two.
“…those two”: Suarez and Castillo?
I’d have thought that winning the division in 2018 would signal the end of rebuilding.
I’m not sure that contention, or the possibility of, signals an end to anything outside of losing. In terms of economics, they are rebuilding until they spend big money on a multi-year player or make a blockbuster trade for a superstar that adds salary. Until then, they are simply a rebuilding team that wins.
They set a franchise-record for AAV with Donaldson and gave out the largest pre-arb extension in MLB history — from a “rebuilding team”. I don’t think you have to spend “stupid money” to not be rebuilding.
The difference between rebuilding and tearing down is only a handful of bad contracts for midsize teams like ATL.
I mean, agree to disagree. They tore down when they traded everyone for prospects. They were really bad for a while but gave their prospects a chance, and some worked out. They added Donaldson as a stop-gap, but I don’t consider one year deals proof of the end of a rebuild. He was, at the time, literally just getting them from Camargo to Riley… I would consider that the definition of a rebuild, tbh.
But they didn’t trade everyone for prospects – that was the point. Freeman, Teheran (when he had any value), etc. Remember all those “won’t trade Freeman for my right arm – made by Coppy”? Remember all those transactions Coppy made to gain picks, shed money, etc? Remember?
Not sure what gong of the cymbals, dancing bear or firing of the gun you’re expecting for the end of the rebuild – but it’s over. If you’re not getting excited about the international signing period or the June Amateur Draft, then you’ve done well enough (or penalized enough) to not need it. Congrats! You’re not one of the worst teams. Your prize? Another year to contend.
Again, as previously stated, from an economic standpoint, the Braves are no longer rebuilding when they are willing to spend big money and/or big prospects on players longterm to help them win. That may very well be this year!? But don’t point to Donaldson or Keuchel and tell me they are done rebuilding, lol, bc they are no longer on this team. They were stop-gaps to get them from year to year. Not trading Freddie or Teheran doesn’t signal the end of a rebuild, lol, otherwise they would have never been considered rebuilding in the first place…!? We aren’t going to agree on what signifies a rebuild, obviously. I believe there are 3 steps to a rebuild, as I clearly outlined previously. You believe a team is done at the point of contention. Agree to disagree.
Perhaps it is just meaning different things by the same word. I understand what you are getting at. Cheers.
Why would the Reds move either of them not to mention both of them ???
Are they not supposed to every try and compete.
I don’t understand how some people think.
I’m not sure they would… just an example of guys I would target with basically any/all players outside of Acuna, Freeman, Albies, Pache, Soroka, and Anderson ♀️
I have to say one thing. I don’t get why everyone keeps mentioning Melancon as a trade candidate. Not only does he make $14 million next year which makes his contract virtually untradeable but he has a FULL NO TRADE CLAUSE. Melancon really loves pitching for the Braves and he is not going to accept a trade from a team that he lives, has had success with and is in serious championship contention with. The only team that I think he would consider at all is the Dodgers. He might get a shot as a closer there since theirs is failing, he would theoretically be in better contention and he already spent time in southern California. That would all depend in the Dodgers wanting him, which I think is unlikely. Even if all of that happened with that one exact team there is still a very solid chance he would turn it down. I don’t think the Braves would even bother trying. Nothing is more offensive than having a championship caliber club ask if they can trade you. It could create a lot of I’ll will and be a team distraction just for him to end up turning the trade down anyway. Then we would have an entire awkward year of Melancon pitching for a team that he would feel doesn’t want him.
Will Smith = Bad deal
We will see I would rather get the best available free agent reliever than be trying to trade for one again at the deadline like last year
It’s not a bad deal. We had zero Lefty relievers and there is a rule change that kicks in next season requiring every pitcher to face at least three batters before they are taken out of the game. The Braves HAD to get a lefty reliever that can get out righties as well. Smith might be the best lefty reliever in baseball. This rule change is going to bite a lot of teams in the butt next season. Can you imagine how bad Jerry Blevins would have been if he had to face 2 righties every time he took the mound. This rule just basically ended that guys career and many more like him. The most notable thing about the 2020 season is the absolute destruction for the need of a LOOGY. All lefties now have to be able to get righties out too.
stan lee the manly
I would be very worried with the amount of innings on these crucial bullpen arms. Everything has to go right health-wise for this bullpen to thrive, and in general it just doesn’t ever seem to go that way. If this is what they are rolling with, they are going to need a couple of young guys to step up if/when a couple of these guys get hurt or struggle.
You always need more players than what you open the season with
You can say the same thing about every bullpen though.
stan lee the manly
No you really can’t say this about every bullpen, that’s kinda the point of the article. How many other bullpens have this many guys north of 30 in their most important shutdown spots? Their critical pen pieces are going to be more susceptible to health and injury issues than most bullpens with the age and career innings issue. Doesn’t mean they will get hurt. Just means they are taking a bigger risk in terms of health than a lot of teams.
Sure, but there’s a couple of guys at AAA near-ready. Problem was, last year, we were too reliant on the young guys stepping up, and pressed some guys (i.e. Luke Jackson as closer) into roles they had no business being in, which went through growing pains, but also allowed to find a role now (or get sent packing). Now we have some vets to right the ship and allow some young blood to come in and establish themselves without relying on 60 stressful IP from some inexperienced 22 y/o. Jacob Webb, for instance, is a name Braves fans should follow, as he’s been called the proverbial “closer of the future”, while quietly being dominant. I hope guys like Touissaint and Tucker Davidson can find a role and some consistency to go with their ceilings.
I think A.J. has closer stuff also and I think he was rushed a bit to step into a role like that
I really wonder how much the spring training delay had on him, in 2019.
I’d be interested to see how he rebounds this spring and if it makes it any better.
I agree he has closer stuff, just needs a bit of tuning, then he’ll be the 2nd coming of Billy Wagner.
Not buying their bullpen rebuild. Looks good on paper, but none of them have electric stuff. Smith was really good last year, but he began having some issues in the second hf after a truly dominant first half to the season. Martin’s and Melancon were close or above 4.0 last season
Goodness Braves fans are sensitive sorts. Give me obnoxious Yankee/RedSox fans any day of the week over whininess.
Whining about whining. Very meta. I like it.
The pen might be aged, but you kinda know what you’re gonna get from most players which is pretty valuable. In theory, none of these guys should have a huge swing down except maybe luke Jackson.
Thanks for making me feel ancient this morning.
Looks like the Braves are constructing another better than average, but not WS caliber team. I am interested to see what they do with the catcher position, especially since Contreras could be a trade candidate. Cubs need to rebuild especially with young arms, and the Braves could be one of only 2 or 3 teams that could give them what they want. Also, his brother is already part of that organization
Do you have a rough draft ready for when the Braves sign Bumgarner, Jeff?
Pretty sure I picked them to do so in the free agent contest. Definitely still possible … as I said in this very post, they still have flexibility to move salary to open the way for free agent signings if they don’t simply increase their payroll. Or they have lots of chips to use in trade.
I think it was a good story and I’m a Braves fan just keep writing and enjoy what you do
Thank you. Alas, I also like arguing, and I think on balance most of our readers like to see the authors pop into the comments from time to time.
It’s all good, I’m not mad at anyone. Just defending my honor!!!
I like that you converse with the readers it makes things more interesting just be ready for agreement and disagreements as you well know I’m sure lol
I like it, too. You don’t respond much to me though 🙁 I really want to get your take on whether all these bullpen moves might be motivated by next season’s new three batter minimum rule and how you think that rule might effect the game next season. I actually think it is going to be much bigger than people think. Especially for teams that don’t prepare for it and continue to just roll with the same LOOGY’s they had last year and expect them to be able to get out 2 righties most appearances.
AA already stated per mark bowman Greene will not be non tendered
Makes sense to me in this day of long bullpens. The 3 batter rule will dampen that a bit but you still have the fact that starters are not being expected to make it three times through the order (because, as the data overwhelmingly shows, most of them can’t; you can bang your head on that wall and trot SP’s out there for sixth inning but most are going to get touched for a run or two if not whacked for more. There are maybe a half-dozen pitchers who can routinely get three times through). A long BP of quality may be expensive but it’s simply unavoidable for teams that want to compete. Nats caught lightning in a bottle and got away with it, amazingly enough.
Yes totally agree! The only risk you run with assembling the pen the way AA has is turning out like the Rockies pen when they invested so heavy, luckily most of these guys in Atlanta are on short deals.
The only deal I didn’t like was melancon and only because we took on his total salary he was still owed otherwise I think it’s all been above average to good deals
I think the 3 batter rule is going to have a bigger impact than people think. Can you imagine Jerry Blevins having to face multiple righties almost every time he took the mound? There are a lot of lefty relievers like him in major league baseball. Not to mention that opposing managers are gonna take advantage of it and bring in bench players more for righty splits against LOOGY’s. I think it will be the end of Jerry Blevins career as well as most LOOGY’s. I think the Braves had to sign Smith because they didn’t have a single lefty in the pen with Newc going back to the rotation. They had to get a lefty that was capable of consistently getting out righties. I think a lot of teams that wait and see how this rule effects the game next season before they adjust are going into watch their bullpens get rocked by opponents.
The bullpen can be fickle from year to year. I thought the Mets put together an outstanding crew for 2019 and the Cardinals has a near great one for 2017. Sometimes window shopped, brand named bullpens don’t jell.
“Now has a good but aging bullpen” aka we love them on paper but also on paper they’re old and bound to implode and need to be reloaded anyway…. which, I see this a lot in sports journalism and it feels like boiler plate speculation. “He’s hot now but eventually he won’t be so let’s discuss!” Or “signed to an 8 year/$1 billion contract 7 months ago- what the heck is the team gonna do with him and how will they possibly hire anybody else!?” Like when the Dbacks signed Greinke and then that hogtied them financially over 4 years and $137M or whatever…. WHY!? I understand blockbuster trades that get blown up later like Dodgers-Sox a few years ago with Adrian Gonzalez etc or a Win Now move like the Mets last season but what’s with “that was a great signing… oh it’s been a minute? Albatross signing” !?
With mid-thirties signings, age is always going to be a concern/topic of discussion.
Chris Martins K/BB numbers were pretty spectacular in ’19, but it’s a bit head-scratching the Braves forked over that kind of contract as early as they did.
Then again, the relief market isn’t that deep this off-season — so maybe it was them being a bit ahead of the curve.
Braves have young arms that can fill spots in the bullpen in years to come, including Ynoa, Weigel, Walker, Sobotka, and Webb along with young starting pitchers who have pitched out of pen already including Wright, Wilson, Touki and Newcomb. Braves have a deep farm, especially pitchers. So while the current group of relievers is somewhat long in the tooth, there are younger options behind them.
Meh, by the time these relievers are over the hill (2 or 3 years), the Braves will decide to undertake another money-making 10 year rebuild. Window is open, briefly.
Some things get better with age. Some… Not all. Also signing 5 players for 30 million is not that much when talking about MLB Money. Now find the rest of the missing puzzle pieces and reveal the 2020 Braves team.
Gotta go after Fernando. Bring that average up.
As in Fernando Valenzuela?
If so then yes it will definitely bring that average up. HaHa
For the love of god will someone please tell the Braves that Luke Jackson sucks? Like a lot. He does not need to be on a roster.