2018 25-Man + Payroll

2018 25-Man + Payroll

We’re going to keep a running tally of the 25-man roster and payroll as the off-season goes along. As moves are made, we’ll update them here. We’ll also keep track of 2018 projections as they come out in the next few weeks. The 25-man roster listed here isn’t a prediction of what the final roster will be but the most logical choices based on who’s currently in the organization.

*MLB minimum salary for 2018 has been set at $545K.

 

Player

2018 Salary

2018 Projection

C

Tyler Flowers

$4M

Kurt Suzuki

$3.5M

INF

F. Freeman

$21M

Ozzie Albies

$545K

Dansby Swanson

$545K

Johan Camargo

$545K

C. Culberson

$545K

Rio Ruiz

$545K

OF

Nick Markakis

$11M

Ender Inciarte

$4.7M

Ronald Acuña

$545K

Lane Adams

$545K

SP

Julio Teheran

$8M

M. Foltynewicz

$2.7M

Luiz Gohara

$545K

Sean Newcomb

$545K

B. McCarthy

$11.5M

RP

Arodys Vizcaino

$3.7M

Jose Ramirez

$545K

Sam Freeman

$1.2M

AJ Minter

$545K

Lucas Sims

$545K

Akeel Morris

$545K

Chase Whitley

$800K

Dan Winkler

$800K

 Dead Money*         $33M
 Total       $113M

*Adrian Gonzalez/Scott Kazmir

*Also includes 4.5M from LA

 

18 Comments

I apologize in advance, Stephen, as I know this isn’t really the topic of discussion, but I wonder with so many roster spots locked up with minimum salaries, if this really is the best time to orchestrate a mega-contract swap.

I know a specific person who will likely adamantly disagree with his caps lock on (or shift key held down, if you prefer), but the Atlanta Braves have a rare chance, IMO, to take on a slew of bad salaries at this point in time to allow the team to rid itself of Kemp’s entire 2019 salary. Imagine this as another version of the Chris Johnson trade. For those that may be unfamiliar or foggy on the details, we acquired approximately $30M worth of salary on expiring contracts in an upcoming season between Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher to rid of approximately $30M worth of longer term future commitments to Chris Johnson.

Obviously, the swaps aren’t so clean in the case of Kemp and the $18Mish ($21.5M not including the Dodger payments), but it’s nothing creativity can’t solve. Imagine this…(and Thomas will probably recognize this, because I pitched it to him the other day) a blockbuster 4-team trade….but a blockbuster only because of the salaries being moved about.

Minnesota Twins receive Victor Martinez along with $18M from the Atlanta Braves to pay his salary completely. Obviously, this is assuming V-Mart gets cleared, but there’s no reason not to think that. He underwent a procedure to fix his heart issue and the Twins could surely use help at DH.

Detroit Tigers receive Matt Kemp and 1-2 prospects from the Dodgers (pretty good ones too) and a prospect from the Twins. Kemp’s 2018 salary washes out V-Mart’s, so all the Tigers are really taking on is the $21.5M ($18Mish after Dodgers payment) in 2019. For the trouble, they need 3 prospects…quite the haul, IMO, for their willingness to take on just $18M in future commitments as we only got 1 for taking Arroyo’s salary upfront, albeit we took on only about half the salary the Tigers would be taking on.

Los Angeles Dodgers receive Ian Kinsler. The reason the Dodgers surrender good prospects in this is because of Kinsler. They’re getting themselves a solid 2B at a reasonable price AND managing to dump salary at the same time (see below).

Atlanta Braves receive Scott Kazmir & Logan Forythe. Again. The point of trading Kemp isn’t to get a return. It never was. It never is. It never will be, even if you keep him and try to “increase his value”. It’s not going to happen. In this trade, the Braves pay $18M to the Twins for V-Mart’s salary….they take on $16M worth of Kazmir, who will not be depended on for any innings (in fact, he’s probably the Carlos Quentin of this deal, to reference another salary swap in which a player was included merely to offset salary), and they grab Logan Forsythe ($9M) who can spend a season coming off the bench and time-sharing at 3B. If you add up the Braves’ dollar commitments in this? $43M. Kemp’s total salaries not including Dodger payments which were forfeited to the Tigers as part of the deal? $43M.

It’s a $21.5M payroll hit in 2018, but grants you freedom in 2019–something that should be strived for, whether or not you think going big in free agency that winter is the right thing to do or not. That said…we may just have the right GM to get this type of deal done now too.

Bryce..while not the worst trade I’ve ever heard of, the problem I have with it..is that Minnesota only has to pay ‘one prospect’ (not sure how good it would have to be)…for one FREE YEAR of Victor Martinez (the Braves would be sending Minnesota $18 mil to cover Martinez’s salary in 2018). While Minnesota would JUMP all over that, why would other teams be willing to extend Minnesota that courtesy?

You’re proposing that instead of The Braves paying Kemp $37 mil over 2 years…we simply send Minnesota $18 mil in cash right now/absorb Scott Kazmir’s $16 mil salary on the last year of his contract/take back Logan Forsythe’s $9 mil owed to him in 2018…for a total of $43 mil.

Under your scenario…we’re basically paying $43 mil for Logan Forsythe in 2018 ($18 mil cash to Minnesota/releasing Kazmir/paying Forsythe $9 mil..all in 2018, lol). And we’d still need to pay to have someone play left field (Lane Adams simply does not have the pop in his bat to be an everyday left fielder)….whereas we already have Rio Ruiz/Adonis Garcia/Johan Carmago slotted to play 3rd. While Forsythe would be projected to provide more for The Braves playing 3rd than those three….I doubt that Forsythe has $43 mil worth of production in him for 2018, lol.

Also, The Dodgers comes out SMELLING LIKE A ROSE in this trade of yours. Instead of paying $9 mil for Forsythe, they pay $10 mil for Kinsler (nice upgrade for only $1 mil)….as well as saving $16 mil on Kazmeir’s contract (for the cost of 2 prospects..unless they are giving up Julio Urias, not much of a cost for The Dodgers).

There has to be a more fair way to make a trade like this work (to start off, The Braves sending LESS than $18 mil to Minnesota, lol. Also, taking back Kazmir doesnt sit well with me). Given that The Braves are not likely to contend in 2018…the $18 mil owed to Kemp in 2019, is the only real ‘sunk cost’ that should be of concern to The Braves.

Paul,

I may reply more in-depth later….but answer me this. Just two questions. Yes or no. No explanations needed. No tricks, just the way you answer will give me insight on what you truly understand and how you feel, etc. because the way you structure your arguments are consistently contradictory.

1. Do you understand the “pay upfront” concept of the Chris Johnson for Michael Bourn/Nick Swisher trade and why it was done? Yes or no.

2. Did you like the Chris Johnson for Michael Bourn/Nick Swisher trade? Yes or no.

Again. No explanation wanted. Just yes’s and/or no’s.

Okay, Paul. So based on you understanding the concept of the “pay it now rather than later” trade and liking it, what’s different about what I proposed from the Braves’ perspective? Let me lay out your argument in bullets and then provide a statement that kind of shows the hypocrisy between your liking of the concept of the Johnson for Swish/Bourn and not liking any concept where Kemp’s 2019 salary is off the books for an upfront variable cost.

1. We pay $43M instead of $37M.
— Okay. Instead of telling you how you just don’t understand these types of things, let me refresh your memory. In the Johnson for Bourn/Swisher deal, the Braves took on a bit of salary too. Even though the Indians sent the Braves $15M in the swap, the Braves still ended up absorbing some salary and my suggestion is no different, but with evener numbers. Back to topic, the Indians payment was to offset what was near $7M of difference in salary in 2015 between Swish/Bourn and Johnson and to somewhat compensate for the Braves taking on so much salary in 2016 compared to Johnson’s still smaller salary. In 2016, Swish was set to earn $15M and Bourn $14M. Johnson’s salaries (including 2018 buyout) added up to $17.5M. Even if you subtract the $8M remaining from the Cleveland payment from the amount owed to Bourn/Swish that’s $21M the Braves paid out of pocket. The Braves ended up paying an extra $3-4M in 2016 or so to ensure they weren’t paying Johnson $9M in 2017 (or on hook for the $1M to buyout the option). So….if having an extra $9M in a future season was worth $4M extra upfront, having an extra $9M for a future season certainly should be worth…uh oh….$6-8M. So you’re damn right we’re paying a little bit extra. Label it a “processing fee” if you want, but if you liked the Johnson for Bourn/Swish deal on the principal that that it freed up future cash, there’s no reason to dislike the deal I presented from the Braves’ perspective. Period. Moving forward…

2. $43M for just Forsythe.
–You’re reaching here. This is as silly a viewpoint as an educated baseball fan can take. I’ve granted you that credit here, Paul, that you’re an educated baseball fan, because I can see it in some of the things you present that you DO understand a good bit about how things work, and it’s enough to understand that you can not view a multi-faceted trade with the complexity of the one I proposed in a complete and utter vacuum like making the argument that we’re paying $43M just for Logan Forsythe. That’s like zeroing in on a trade like Shelby Miller for Ender, Dansby and Aaron Blair and saying “Man, that sucked. We sold high on Miller and all we got was Blair. Damn.” It’d be the literal equivalent of you looking at the aforementioned Johnson for Swisher/Bourn trade and saying “Well, crap. We took on $38M worth of salary and all we got was Bourn and Swisher?!”. That’s a bull’s stick stance, bro. Bull stick stance. You’re ignoring the elephant in the room–which is the freeing up of $18M of 2019 payroll–by making the “$43M for Forsythe” argument. I’d try to admonish you by saying you should feel somewhat ashamed to stoop to that level to make an argument against this idea, but I think you know deep down in your gut that you’re reaching on this one. Onward…

3. Dodgers are “smelling like roses”/why would we extend Twins that courtesy?
— I don’t think the Twins or Dodgers come out of this ahead at all. First of all, I did not name names when talking about prospects. I did that purposefully and to leave it open-ended for discussion. If there’s any indication from my words, it’s simply that I said that they’d be good ones. You can try to dissect what I mean by “good”, but when I say “good”, I do not mean a C prospect. I’m talking B’s or better. If, in your opinion, the only prospect that can make the Dodgers hurt is Urias, you’ve got a sore lack of baseball knowledge when it comes to minor league prospects and frankly, he did not even cross my mind on this. I’m thinking younger, higher upside after Urias’s value took a hit this season. Regardless. Sure…unloading Kazmir and Logan Forsythe (remember that they picked up his option, so they actually do value him to some degree) in exchange for Kinsler is a steal, but not if it’s going to also cost them two of their top 10 or so prospects. Same goes for the Twins getting V-Mart for “free”. While I wouldn’t say they absolutely NEED to give up a top 10 from their system, it won’t be a joke prospect either. Though, remember that Victor Martinez is going to be 39 years old, he had a really terrible season for his standards hitting just .255/.324/.372 and let’s not forget that the dude almost died because of a heart issue. The Twins will pay up a decent prospect, but let’s not joke around and say they’d jump all over the opportunity, because V-Mart was not himself in 2017 and it’s arguable that age is catching up to him.

4. “Given that The Braves are not likely to contend in 2018…”
— Yeah, you keep saying this. I get it. I think everyone does. You’re not high on the team’s chances for 2018. However, moves like the one I’m suggesting are not designed for success in 2018. They’re designed with an eye for the future. The hardest part of developing this trade scenario is arguing the Braves’ point of view. The Twins, Tigers and Dodgers have a LOT of reasons to do this. However, it’s Braves fans that need to be convinced that taking on zero 2018 benefit to achieve a 2019 goal is something worth participating in this trade for. It’s something, of all people, you should completely understand with your “SIGN HARPER SIGN MACHADO SIGN GODZILLA SO WE CAN WIN THE MEGA WORLD STANLEY FINALS SUPERBOWL CUP SERIES IN 2019!!@@!!1” plans.

Let me end by saying this. It’s simple. Kemp’s like credit card debt. If you have the cash available to pay it off and make it go away, pay it off now instead of letting it hang around and cause problems a year later. Rip that bandaid off and be relieved it’s done instead teasing it and trying to save two arm hairs while still enduring pain with each passing second. You clearly understand this concept because you “get” the Johnson for Swisher/Bourn deal. You clearly liked it based on your response. I just don’t get the hypocrisy when it comes down to discussing it. Just because it’s not YOUR idea doesn’t make it wrong or a bad plan. You clearly didn’t have much substance to provide your rebuttal. What was so hard about simply stating something like “Not bad. But it would depend on the prospects the Dodgers and Twins give up, because if they aren’t good ones, then they’re making out like bandits.” Because…you know…that’s all your reply really managed to say.

Stephen Tolbert…you’re a little off on a couple of those figures. Markakis is only making $10.5 mil in 2018 (the $2 mil signing bonus was paid on 1/1/15 shortly after he signed his contract with The Braves). Ender Inciarte is only making $4 mil in 2018 ($3.5 mil signing bonus was signed shortly after he signed his extension last offseason). The Braves are only responsible for paying Matt Kemp $18 mil in 2018 (The Dodgers are paying $3.5 mil of the $21.5 mil Kemp is owed in 2018…same thing applies in 2019).

All total, that lowers the Braves projected payroll for 2018 by $2.7 mil.

I love the graph you posted….could you do something like that for The 2019 Season (with some of the young prospects who project to open The 2019 Season in Atlanta)? Then Braves fans on here could see how much money we’ll have going into The 2018 Free Agent Offseason…to possibly address the holes we have in left field, 3rd base and closer!

The Braves 2017 payroll was close to $130 mil. Let’s say that AA spends another $12 mil to bring The 2018 payroll up to $100 mil….I say let’s use the payroll savings from 2017-2018…to absorb not only eating $2-$4 mil of Markakis contract in a trade that dumps him (to open up a spot in Right Field for Ronald Acuna)…but also to budget for either trading Kemp after The 2018 Season to an AL team in need of a DH for 2019 (eating only $6-$8 mil of Kemp’s $18 mil salary for 2019…IF Kemp can stay healthy/hit for power for The Braves in 2018…OR….if Kemp cant stay healthy/cant get his power stroke back in 2018, then we’ll have to eat all of Kemp’s $18 mil owed to him by The Braves for 2019).

Regardless of how much money The Braves have to eat of Kemp’s last year for 2019….Kemp simply has to either be traded or cut after The 2018 Season…because having Kemp play left field/hitting cleanup in 2019 WILL NOT help our playoff chances. We’ll need A SERIOUS UPGRADE in left field/in the cleanup spot going into The 2019 Season. Budgeting the payroll savings from The 2017 to 2018 Season towards the eating of whatever we have to of Markakis and Kemp’s contract….is essential if we want to have A CLEAN SLATE going into The 2018 Free Agent Offseason..which is where we can seriously upgrade left field, 3rd base and closer WITHOUT having to part with our PRECIOUS pitching prospects (our cheap/cost controlled pitching prospects…is how The Braves are going to keep/balance a payroll that should start off at around $150 mil in 2019..and gradually grows in subsequent years (inflation, increased revenues, etc)!

Bryce S…..Sure, I could have mentioned the ‘it depends on the prospects that The Dodgers/Twins both would have to give up” when critiquing your trade proposal. However I still feel that The Braves would be getting THE WORSE END of the deal. Usually when a team willing to ‘pay off’ an obligation early….they get a deal (whereas the team who wants to ‘spread out’ their obligation over a few seasons…has to end up paying a premium/penalty).

I did some checking on the Johnson for Swisher/Bourne trade back in late in The 2015 Season. In 2016, Swisher was owed $15 mil/Bourne $14 mil. Johnson was owed $19 mil from 2016-2018 (which included a $1 mil buyout after the 2017 Season on the $10 mil option owed to him in 2018, which SURELY will not be exercised, lol). Given that Cleveland sent over $10 mil to Atlanta to ‘balance out’ the differences in salaries…..it turned out to be a pretty even wash when it came to the salaries being swapped. Instead of paying Johnson $19 mil over 2 years (with the $1 mil buyout of The 2018 Year)….we paid Swisher and Bourne a combined $19 mil in 2016 (including the $10 mil Cleveland sent over).

That is the kind of deal I’m looking for that is more fair. Making Atlanta pay $7 mil for the ‘privilege’ of making 2019 a ‘clean slate’ when it comes to the bad contracts….I’d rather see The Braves play Kemp in 2018 (where we at least get something out of him in a non-contending year)…and, worst case scenario, CUT KEMP after The 2018 Season ends (eating The whole $18 mil…with the money that we SAVED by not adding any money to the payroll after The 2017 Season ended (remember, we paid Bartolo Colon $12 mil, RA Dickey $8 mil and traded for Jaime Garcia and his $11 mil contract during The 2016 Offseason Free Agent Period. That’s $31 mil that WILL NOT be spent in 2018, instead we’ll be paying Luis Gohara, Sean Newcomb and Max Fried A COMBINED $1.6 mil to replace those three in our rotation in 2018).

Do the math…and with the increased revenues being generated by Sun Trust Field AND the surrounding properties that The Braves own/control…..not only will Markakis/Kemp’s contracts be covered/gotten rid of…but The Braves will have PLENTY OF CASH to improve The Team starting with The 2018 Free Agency Offseason (if they choose to do so).

While I would be open to finding something that could work regarding the swapping of bad contracts..I’ve simply failed to find a fair one that works for The Braves (contrary to your ‘beliefs’ my ego is not ‘that big’ that I desire ‘credit’ for ‘finding it’. What matters to me THE MOST, are The Braves doing what it takes to start fielding a World Series contender, starting in 2019, for YEARS to come)! Simple as that!

…..what? Paul. Dude. I dunno, man. You can’t just re-state from history which I laid out perfectly and then claim it isn’t what it is. It’s a weak position you’re taking here. It’s almost as if you’re just here to troll people.

So, first of all. It was $15M the Indians sent Atlanta. So your “checking on the…trade” didn’t go so well. A lot of venues reported on that detail. MLBTradeRumors, included. (Link for proof, so you know I’m not yanking your chain. https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2015/08/nick-swisher-trade-braves-indians.html ) Due to the….$15M….the Indians sent it was almost a salary wash. As I stated pretty clearly in my post, the savings to the Indians in dollar-for-dollar numbers was about $3-4M depending on how far down you do your little decimal points when figuring out the remaining 2015 salaries. Including remaining 2015 salaries, the Braves took on about $38M and the Indians took on just over $20.5M. Subtract the $15M the Indians sent and that makes a $23M “out of pocket” for Atlanta. Again. The Indians, ballpark, saved $3-4M depending how exact you do your math. It’s nothing different from what I said, just that you didn’t do your research on this one just like I forgot and mistakenly swapped the entire season for the 90-day on active roster rule for the Rule 5. Strike 1 for argument building by restating the obvious, but in a less correct manner.

Second. Atlanta paid $3M for the ‘privilege’ of making $2017 a clean slate of Johnson. That’s the exact same statement as saying they’ll pay $7M for the ‘privileage’ of making 2019 a clean slate of Kemp. Strike two for either not realizing that or ignorantly trying to bend a fact to support your end game.

Third. In your scenario, you keep Kemp and affect the 2019 payroll. At this point you’re arguing against your own suggested theory of 2019 being the year you making your move, because now you’re limiting the amount of payroll you’ll have by paying some money (or a lot, perhaps) to get rid of Kemp then. Strike three for…well, I don’t know what to call this other than tunnel vision, as you’re so focused on this concept of yours that you don’t even realize you’re arguing against your own theory.

You know how baseball works. That’s three strikes. Go sit down. Your at bat is over. There’s nothing left here for you to do this time around.

Bryce S…..I overlooked the 2015 salaries of each player when doing the math (oversight on my part, my bad). Also, I came across several articles that focused on the numbers for 2016 salaries for Swisher and Bourn as well as the 2016-17 salaries for Chris Johnson…which also mentioned the $10 mil pitch in by Cleveland, not the $15 mil that was stated on the link you provided. (https://www.talkingchop.com/2015/8/7/9118267/atlanta-braves-trade-chris-johnson-nick-swisher-cleveland-indians-mlb-trade-rumors…if you read in the comments, you’ll see the $10 mil posted in several tweets by journalists).

Either way, you were right on the numbers. It happens, not going to cause a big stink about it. I will say that I DID NOT intentionally try to ‘fudge’ the numbers to make my argument. I dont feel any need to do that. When I type out my positions on things…I routinely google for articles/stats for info to either make sure I remember things correctly OR to back up what I’m saying. On occasion, I’ll come across some incorrect info. Again, it happens…so I have no problem admitting I made a mistake (I NEVER claimed to be perfect, NOR do I feel that it is a sign of ‘weakness’ to admit one made an error, lol).

As far as my ‘preference’ to keep Matt Kemp (assuming a fair swap of bad contracts doesnt happen)…..I’ve already stated how we do that (I know, you’re ‘accounting’ position is that a team CANNOT take profit from one year to cover the release of a player the next). I’m saying ‘WHY NOT’? A team can be ‘creative’ (for instance, release Kemp the last day of the season…and PAY HIM a negotiated ‘buy out’ where Kemp gets virtually all of his 2019 salary in a ‘balloon payment’ the day before The 2018 Season ends). I’m not sure what the legalities are concerning The Collective Bargaining Agreement…but I feel that it is worth exploring (assuming that Kemp has a repeat of 2017 in The 2018 Season with injuries/post June-end of season power outage).

The drop in payroll from 2017 to 2018 (along with the increase in revenues that Sun Trust Park and the surround Battery Area brings in…will MORE THAN make up for the $18 mil that we’d have to eat of Kemp’s last year 2019 contract IF we cant trade him to an AL team). That is how we clear his contract going into The 2018 Free Agent Offseason.

That all being said, I have just about had it with people saying that we should wait until 2019 to be competitive. What the hell do you pay 25 players almost $100M to do? The Braves are much closer than anyone wants to believe to competing for a playoff spot without destroying the rebuild. Some sort of creative bad contract swap, sign a couple of minor free agents, and you can fill the existing holes and certainly come up with a .500 team – as were right up until the Jaime Garcia trade last year. If Kemp had stayed healthy and Garcia wasn’t traded, the Braves could easily have been competitive up to the end. Yes, Camargo/Ruiz/Adonis can be warm bodies over at 3B, but the Braves need to add some HR power. Trading for a Colin Morin/JD Davis or signing a Frazier is not going send the whole team to hell. But having a legitimate power threat at 3B and Camargo as UTIL is a strong position to be in. Especially if Dansby struggles, Camargo can fill-in at SS. Picking up a lockdown reliever of any sort, whether it be a closer or set-up (Reed/Chisek/Neshak… whatever) will help this bullpen to gell and become a positive force for the team and the rotation. Even a blockbuster for Yelich would not harm the rebuild and easily give the Braves the most talented OF in the last 20 years (Acuna/Inciarte/Yelich). EVERY year is the best year to contend – starting now. I understand what the Braves did last year. They signed pitchers of the older, declining type who had legitimate track records looking for one last year of their better selves and hoping that Kemp and Swanson and J. Johnson would perform as they did the year before – not to mention Freddie avoiding injury. It was a weak bet but not a terrible one as the .500 record in July indicated and did allow several prospects to show themselves in the Majors to prep for this year (Albies/Newcomb/Gohara/Mintor/Winkler/Camargo even to a lesser extent Fried/Sims – that’s a lot of successful prospect introduction). AA has got to understand this already; I just hope he can make a few of these deals THIS YEAR to get us over the top.

Roger,

You’ll see my comments around here where I say that I tend to agree with Paul’s assessment that 2018 isn’t necessarily the year for contention. To clarify my stance a little bit, it’s not that I don’t think this team can’t contend for a playoff spot, but I also feel that this is not the winter where we should be making longterm decisions at certain positions.

There was a discussion I had with Thomas somewhere in one of these posts where I posed how many wins the team might add just by simply being replacement level at certain spots like….in the rotations sans Bartolo Colon, or in left field with 0 WAR vs. Kemp’s negative defensive contribution, or with “not Jim Johnson v.2017” in the bullpen and perhaps even an entire year of Camargo at 3B vs. having to throw Adonis or Ruiz out there out of necessity. The general consensus between Thomas, another poster and myself is that with simple replacement math that this team could very well be a .500 team if all things are just neutral.

Also, here’s my take on this, though. You referenced it yourself in your comment whether you noticed it or not. There’s a lot of things that have to go right for this team to actually contend. You mentioned .500, but that isn’t really contention either, you know?

We can go into nitty gritty details over reasonable moves to make this winter and what it could mean for the team, but let’s not do that just yet. At least from my standpoint, when I say 2018 is not the year for contention, I’m not saying the team should tank it. What I’m saying is 2018–like Paul has been adamant about–isn’t the year to trade the farm system for short-sighted one-year remaining contracts on stars in an attempt to MAKE a winner out of the current roster. 2018 is another year for the front office to continue to build the basis of what could be a longterm winner. If, in the process of moving Kemp, replacing Markakis, stop-gapping 3B, improving the depth of the bench, improving the pen, adding front-end experience to the rotation (it really is a lot when you line it all up in a row like that…) the team makes a jump into contention, a mid-season acquisition or two can be made to make a decent run at it, but as I implied, perhaps the first thing to do is to continue doing the little things to make sure you don’t build your castle on shaky grounds. The pieces are almost there, but not quite. If you’d like to hear MY plan in a separate post/discussion on how to achieve both a legitimate competitive lineup worthy of wild card contention AND preparing for a huge run in 2019, I’d be happy to talk about it.

Roger….I understand that you want so much for The Braves to compete in 2018. I agree, with a few tweaks, we can.

However, I just feel that our starting pitching is so UNCERTAIN to how they will perform in 2019 (Teheran and Folty need to prove that they are TOR pitchers to carry our staff, far from a certainty based on past results. While I do harbor some hope that given their ages and experience, 2018 COULD be the year that one/both of them ‘take it to the next level’….again, it’s no guarantee. Gohara, while I feel that he’s ‘almost’ a lock to be our version of CC Cybathia….he needs to show us over a full season that he’s a solid #2-#3 starter. Sean Newcomb, while having great stuff, needs to develop a 3rd pitch that will get hitters out. 100 pitches to barely get through 5 innings IS NOT going to cut it. Too many walks for Newcomb so far. Max Fried, while having great stuff….to me projects to eventually be sent to The Bullpen to possibly fill an Andrew Miller-like role. His past injuries (nagging and otherwise) makes it tough to project him to be a long term/innings eating/durable starter in The Rotation. With Soroka and Allard starting the year in Triple A needing the 1st half of the season to prove that their dominance in Double A was indeed no fluke, which I feel both are more than capable of showing…..I feel that we are not ready pitching-wise to push to seriously contend in 2018. Also, our bullpen, while we have a number of young arms ready to compete…is far from certain).

Signing Frazier to play 3rd…would block either Riley or any effort to sign Machado (Frazier wants a 3-4 year deal…he aint taking a 2 year deal, just to make Braves fans/management ‘happy’,lol).

I like the idea of trading for Morin from The Astros…depending on what it would cost to get him. Still, I do not expect him to ‘dominate’ on Opening Day. Rookie Season in 2018 would be a learning curve for him….tough to expect an Alex Bregman-like season out of him.

I know that you LOVE you some Yelich…but giving up the farm for him (only owed $58.25 mil over the next 5 seasons….he just turned 26 four days ago, lol….makes him a BIG TIME BARGAIN from his age 26-30 years) is not a smart move for The Braves at this time. The Marlins are going to ask for WAY MORE than just Soroka and Wentz for him.

I’d rather wait until AFTER we find out who are starting 5 is going to be LONG TERM…before making any trades involving our starting pitching prospects. Once the dust settles on that (the next two seasons will let us know who the cream of the crop is…and who are indeed ‘good, but not great Starting Pitchers’ are (even the good ones have trade value….because of the scarcity of starting pitchers who can consistently go 6-7 innings).

I know that it may feel good to look forward to a Braves team in 2018 that could compete for a playoff spot (especially with the additions of Frazier/Yelich/bullpen help from the likes of Morrow/Reed/Chisek/etc)….however if The Braves play their cards right the next few years…we can end up doing SO MUCH BETTER.

Nice to think the Braves could compete in 2018, but with only first base, center field, and hopefully another outfield spot, second base and catcher being manned by competitive Major League players, we are far from being in the race for anything. Dreaming of Christian Yelich is like our dreams of landing Ohtani and Stanton — stars are not going to choose Atlanta with the franchise in its current state. We have legitimate starting pitching hopefuls who could begin to arrive in 2019 and who might be ready for post-season competition by 2020, but it’s not worth any expenditure in players to try to accelerate that schedule.

Benedict Emanuele….while I’m not as optimistic as Roger and others are about 2018 being a legit playoff contending season..I’m more optimistic than you are about The 2019 Season.

If Gohara, Albies and Acuna all have the type of years in 2018 I fully expect them to have….along with Mike Soroka and Kolby Allard showing in Triple A that their dominance in Double A during The 2017 Season was no fluke….then The Braves will be HELLA POSITIONED to start competing for a playoff spot in 2019 IF we were to make some very BOLD MOVES in The 2018 Free Agent Offseason. Just scroll past threads….and you’ll see what I proposed. That’s how we make 2019 a possible repeat of 1991!

With the liklihood of Stanton going to The Yankees for minimal package of Starlin Castro and prospect Trevor Stephan…this could present A UNIQUE opportunity for The Braves to possibly ‘ditch’ what I’ve been proposing about clearing payroll to make a run at Machado, Harper and Kimbrel in The 2018 Free Agent Offseason.

If this trade comes through, The Yankees are going to have TOO MANY OUTFIELDERS to too few slots. Obvious Judge in Right/Stanton in left are givens. But they have three guys who can play center. Ellsbury (owed $21.143 mil in 2018-20 with a $5 mil buyout in 2021)…Gardner (owed $11 mil in 2018 with a $2 mil buyout on a $12.5 mil club option for 2019)..and Hicks (owed Salary Arbitration in 2018-19/Free Agent in 2020. Made $1.35 mil in 2017).

Given how The Yankees are DESPERATE to stay under The $197 mil Luxury Tax Threshold for 2018….they will more than likely keep Hicks….meaning that they DESPERATELY need to move Ellsbury and Gardner.

If I were The Braves, I would consider the following trade: The Braves take on Ellsbury’s contract….while also taking on Clint Frazier OF (already promoted to The Majors…apparently blocked by Judge and Stanton on the corner outfield)….Estevan Florial, OF (#3 on The Yankees list)…Miguel Andujar, 3B (#5 on The Yankees list)……Matt Sauer, RHP (#16 on The Yankees List) ..and Nolan Martinez, RHP (#19 on The Yankees list).

The Yankees would be free from The $68 mil owed to Ellsbury….The Braves would two players who could compete to play Left Field soon for years to come (Frazier and Floria), someone to compete with Austin Riley to be our future 3rd baseman (Andujar)…as well as two players to help restock the lower levels of our Minors (Sauer and Martinez).

Ellsbury would platoon with Matt Kemp this year to play left field (giving both a chance to play/hit…and stay healthy). We’d obviously have to work out a trade down the line to get rid of Ellsbury…but in the meantime, I feel that a platoon of Kemp/Ellsbury (while hella pricey for 2018..but then again, paying them isnt going to hurt our playoff chances in 2018…however it will showcase BOTH for potential trades down the line IF both can stay healthy/hit for power. Obviously The Braves would need to eat significant salary when trading them….however we did BUY 5 VERY GOOD prospects in this salary dump that we would have, in theory, took).

What do some of you think? Would others in The Yankees System need to be added/replaced to make it better/more fair? Or…just forget this ideal all together? I ask, because obviously The Yankees are going to have to DUMP both Ellsbury and Gardner…and the only way they can do that..is by trading a number of their prospects (who are going to be blocked in the outfield anyway by Judge and Stanton) to get rid of their salaries.

Sure, we could get Gardner instead…but Gardner is a serviceable outfield whose only making $11 mil in 2018 (Markakis money, lol)…and we’d have to ‘give up’ a serviceable prospect only to increase the GLUT of outfielders we have. At least by taking Ellsbury…we’d be getting 5 VERY GOOD YOUNG Yankees Prospects who play positions of need (power hitting LF/3rd base…as well as lower Minor League Level prospects).

Buying 5 prospects for $68 mil seems pricey. However if only one of them panned out, we’d be getting 6 years of MLB control out of them at affordable prices. If 2 of them panned out…we’d come out smelling like roses, lol! If we can find a team to take Ellsbury down the line, even if we have to eat over half of his remaining contract, would make this trade look even better for The Braves.

Your Thoughts?

Jacoby Ellsbury has a full no trade, and from most reports, doesn’t seem inclined to leave NY. One could argue his view MIGHT change if he’s relegated to being a 4th OF for the NYY. However, I’d wager some cash he’d give a hard “No” if asked to go to a non-contending team in Atlanta, and platoon with Matt Kemp. He’d be better off hardly playing in NY, and at least potentially picking up a ring for riding the pine.

I’d say the way the roster is laid about above is largely how it’ll probably look on opening day, sans Markakis. The Braves will probably add a piece to the pen at some point, and a veteran SS. If Archer comes available, maybe they make a run? Not saying that’s how I hope it turns out, but it’s what I expect.

I’ll state/pose the obvious questions.

1. Jacoby Ellsbury has a no-trade clause. A full one. He’s stated he likes New York and really does want to stay there, even in a part-time role. What indication makes you believe he’d waive his no-trade rights to come to Atlanta where the avenues to a World Series title seem longer than his “comfort zone” in the Bronx? I think he’d waive it to go someplace where a World Series in within immediate reach, but not where he may feel he’ll have to wait a year or two. Jacoby doesn’t seem like a guy who likes to lose based on his past choices.

2. Let’s say he does waive his no-trade rights to come to Atlanta. He likes peaches, perhaps. Whatever that reason is. He WANTS to play for the Braves. Now that you got him in the door and he’s happy. Again….what happens a year from now when you want to trade him again? Dude’s happy. He’ll block a trade. Now you’re stuck paying Ellsbury $21.2M for 2019 and Kemp $21.5M (with some assistance from the Dodgers, of course). You’ve blocked left field with both bodies and salaries to eliminate your possibility at Harper (even if I don’t necessarily agree he’s our target), and potentially even lock up too much payroll to assume you can sign Machado or Donaldson.

Frankly, this seems forced, not very thought through and while unlikely to begin with has pretty much a 50/50 shot of becoming a catastrophic situation if it were to happen.

There is a way to take advantage of the Yankees payroll situation, but it doesn’t include Ellsbury, it’s a lot safer, probably doesn’t cost you much in prospectual property and also probably has higher upside of actually doing some good both in the short and longterm.

OK, fine. Let’s just all wait until 2019 to buy tickets to SunTrust and not worry about watching them on TV. They’re going to intend to not compete then we should intend to not support. It’s one thing to rebuild, but it’s another thing to intentionally not fill known holes in an effort to maximize the future. There is no reason the future has to be mortgaged to compete this year. And, yes, I do believe that a team that’s designed to be at least .500 IS a competitive team that can make the playoffs with a few breaks or some early maturity. I honestly believe the Braves would have been close to .500 if they kept Garcia last year. Dave Cameron at FG is apparently right. The Braves have been negligent with the major league product. All the moves I suggest are not break-the-bank moves. Even Yelich would be trading future for future and be a net enhancement for the future (would eliminate the need for Bryce Harper for sure). With a less than $90M payroll, the Braves have an absolute responsibility to the ticket-paying public to use at least $30M on THIS YEAR’S team. And they should spend more if they can save anything on Kemp or Markakis. Signing Frazier to a 3 year contract to get 1-2 years out of him is a good deal. If Riley hits the majors in 2019, he will need at least a few months to a year to adjust before he really begins producing. An updated bullpen would be worth 5-6 wins this year and make the SPs look better to boot. You call me optimistic, but Paul’s jingoism about 2019 and Machado/Harper/Yankees/Otani is way over pie-in-the-sky unrealistic. He thinks the Yankees are going to give out 6 top 30 prospects to get rid of salary??? That’s insane. You think that the Braves can sign Machado and Harper next year? Insane. It’s much more likely that Machado will extend and Harper will go out west (maybe Diamondbacks). The Braves cannot possibly compete for those guys until after they start winning. Maddux only came to Atlanta the year after they went to the World Series. Your pitch to these guys is that we tanked this year to save money to spend on you next year and then we’ll start winning? You’ll be laughed out of the room – especially knowing the Braves are not a top tier spender. And that’s not going to change just because they start winning. There are enough good players on this team to build around now and be competitive while still designing to be world beaters next year. If we do nothing about Kemp and Markakis, they will be off the payroll – one next year and the other the year after. The suggestions made here by some experts to just release them is not an unreasonable ideas, although the may be better value in a “fit” with another bad contract. Like someone at Talking Chop suggested, Markakis could be sent to MIA in a Yelich deal while the Braves take Volquez (the new Carlos Quentin) and then send some really good but not core prospects along with it (Muller, Pache, Ruiz, etc…). That and adding a couple of decent relievers would make a really potentially good team (the Braves will keep 8 in the bullpen). That’s not optimism; that’s a plan for making a team. You get to the playoffs or close to it this year then some of the better free agents might be interested next year.

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