2019 Budget and Beyond

2019 Budget and Beyond

Yesterday, I talked about the players that changed teams in a supersized Transaction Tuesday, but today I want to look at payroll and specifically what the recent moves will do to payroll moving forward beyond 2018.

Ask five people who follow payroll and you’re going to get five different answers on what the 2019 current payroll will be. That’s because none of us actually know. We deal in a world where unless the information is completely public, we just don’t know all the little ends and outs. That said, while you will get different answers, they typically will be in a tight range. Someone might say the Braves have about $110 million in future commitments while the other four will be within $5-$10 million. Long story short – we’re probably real close, but almost certainly wrong.

The four deadline deals the Braves completed brought four players who the Braves have added some level of commitment to for the 2019 roster so, of course, things for the future have changed. Let’s divide this up in a neat manner.

Starting Rotation
$11,166,667 – Julio Teheran ($11M+one/sixth of a $1M signing bonus)
$8,000,000 – Kevin Gausman (arbitration estimate 3/4)*
$5,500,000 – Mike Foltynewicz (arbitration estimate 2/4)*
$600,000 – Sean Newcomb (pre-arbitration)
$550,000 – Placeholder for young starter
$25,816,667 – Total

Bullpen
$8,000,000 – Darren O’Day ($9M base salary with $1M deferred)
$4,500,000 – Arodys Vizcaino (arbitration estimate 4/4)*
$1,200,000 – Dan Winkler (arbitration estimate 2/3)*
$1,100,000 – Rex Brothers (arbitration estimate 2/3)*
$1,000,000 – Sam Freeman (arbitration estimate 2/3)*
$1,000,000 – Jonny Venters (arbitration estimate 3/3)*
$950,000 – Chase Whitley (arbitration estimate 2/4)*
$650,000 – Jacob Lindgren (arbitration estimate 1/4)*
$600,000 – A.J. Minter (pre-arbitration)
$600,000 – Shane Carle (pre-arbitration)
$600,000 – Jesse Biddle (pre-arbitration)
$600,000 – Grant Dayton (pre-arbitration)
$20,800,000 – Total

Catchers
$600,000 – Placeholder
$550,000
$1,150,000 – Total

Infielders
$21,359,375 – Freddie Freeman ($21M salary plus one/eighth of $2.875M signing bonus)
$600,000 – Ozzie Albies (pre-arbitration)
$600,000 – Dansby Swanson (pre-arbitration)
$600,000 – Johan Camargo (pre-arbitration)
$1,200,000 – Charlie Culberson (arbitration estimate 1/3)
$550,000 – Placeholder
$24,909,375 – Total

Outfielders
$5,700,000 – Ender Inciarte ($5M salary plus one/fifth of $3.5M signing bonus)
$2,500,000 – Adam Duvall (arbitration estimate 1/3)
$600,000 – Ronald Acuna Jr.
$550,000 – Placeholder
$9,350,000 – Total

$82,026,042 – Grand Total

Of course, there are a few isses we need to discuss. One, the placeholders aren’t all going to be rookie fill-ins. Further, let’s talk about the bullpen. Guys like Brothers, Freeman, and Whitley will almost certainly be non-tendered. That saves about $3M, dropping the payroll back under $80M. Of course, signing pre-arbitration guys like Albies or Acuna to extensions would increase their payroll hit. By the way, the major league minimum is $550K, but for many guys, I went with $600K simply on the idea of the team giving players even slight raises just to reward them.

Ozzie Albies | Jeff Morris @JeffMorrisAB

Now, let’s consider how much money the Braves might have for a second. It’s impossible to forecast future payroll limits with complete accuracy, but we do know that in three of the last five years, the Braves opened the year with a $112M to $123M payroll. Often, the team held out on spending all of their money to give them wiggle room later to add talent. Cot’s Contracts suggests that in the last four years, the Braves have finished the year with at least $107M on their payroll and as much as $133M.

We can assume that the wiggle room for 2019 could actually come from not having an international pool to spend from. Meaning that without having to invest that money, the Braves can simply pocket it for adding talent via in-season trades during 2019. Let’s suggest, then, that the Braves have roughly $130M to spend on talent for the 2019 season. If they are already spending about $80M, that leaves $50M to go out and improve the club. If you were worried adding three arbitration-eligible players and a high-priced reliever to the roster was going to change things and take away the Braves’ ability to sign free agents this offseason, let’s just say – they’ll be fine.

Signing at least one catcher or trading for one becomes a priority. Considering all of the top assets they kept and the big hole behind the plate at the moment, the Braves and J.T. Realmuto will likely be a rumored pair for much of this winter unless another team grabs him. In addition to possible trade targets and the Braves’ current duo of pending free agents Kurt Suzuki and Tyler Flowers, Yasmani Grandal and Wilson Ramos headline the catching market. Grandal is, by far, the safer bet but Ramos, who the Phillies just traded for, can’t be extended a qualifying offer.

Adding an outfielder seems like a likely thing as well. Of course, Nick Markakis will be considered, but the market also includes Bryce Harper and Adam Jones. The former will likely command at least half – and probably more – of the $50M the Braves have available for additions. Meanwhile, Jones is in decline and probably isn’t a good fit. Atlanta could buy time for Cristian Pache and Drew Waters by bringing back Markakis on a two-year deal and using Duvall as a platoon option. They could also look for low-cost/big-reward additions like Lonnie Chisenhall.

On the pitching side, the Braves might pass on the starting pitching market, which is led by Patrick Corbin, Charlie Morton, and Dallas Keuchel. Others like Clayton Kershaw and David Price could enter the market. That seems a bit more likely for Kershaw, who has just two seasons and $65 million left on his contract whereas Price is only three years into a seven-year deal worth $217 million. A sneaky, shrewd pick-up, though, would be to sign Garrett Richards, who had Tommy John surgery a few weeks ago. Low investment, but could bring some value to the end of 2019.

While the Braves have a number of relievers under control for 2019, they could use some help from a market that boasts Cody Allen, Jake Diekman, Sean Doolittle, Kelvin Herrera, Andrew Miller, Adam Ottavino, Hector Rondon, Joakim Soria, and some guy named Craig Kimbrel.

$50 million or so. Needs behind the plate, in the outfield, and the bullpen at minimal. It’s certainly possible to add productive players at all of these positions, though it will be interesting to see how the Braves do things this offseason because…

After 2019, things get really interesting. Only two players are signed to current deals that go beyond 2019, though Teheran’s contract does have an option season worth $12,000,000. Freeman will earn about $22.4 million while Inciarte is due $7.7 million. Gausman will be eligible for arbitration for a fourth time while Foltynewicz and Winkler will be eligible for a third time. Adding to the mix will be at least Dansby Swanson, Johan Camargo, and Jesse Biddle.

After 2020, we’re talking Ronald Acuna Jr., Ozzie Albies, A.J. Minter, Sean Newcomb, and maybe even Mike Soroka. Also, Freeman will be hitting free agency after the 2021 season. Guys who are signed this offseason will have a direct result on the money available for long-term extensions for Acuna Jr., Albies, Newcomb, and – down the road – Freeman. So, keep that in mind as you look toward adding free agents this offseason.

I’m going to table this discussion for a while. I just wanted to pop in with the money side of things as the Braves try to make the playoffs for the first time since 2013. They will have a good deal of spending cash, but any long-term deal has to work within the framework of keeping their core together as they begin to earn real paychecks.

9 Comments

I know these analyses never include trading but I think trading Teheran is imperative to future success now. The pitching is developing beyond him and his contract will be a heavy weight going forward whereas it was very reasonable up to now. But that’s one of the greatest side benefits of the deals that AA made at the deadline; they set us up for next year, too. Teheran’s salary alone can make up the margin for next year’s trade deadline.

Further, O’Day will either be a top set-up man or can be traded for salary relief (I don’t think anyone will take his entire salary but maybe we can get like $3M in relief).

I know you want to wait but the obvious path to making this a championship team is as follows:

1. Sign Harper.
2. Trade for Realmuto.
3. Do NOT sign a top closer. Not enough value for the cost. Yes, even Kimbrel. As we found out over the winter and during the deadline, good relievers will be plentiful. And we have several waiting to be tried in our own system (e.g. not only Lindgren and Dayton but also Clouse, Burrows, etc…). And we have the second full season of AJ Minter.
4. Sign either Flowers or Suzuki as backup (Flowers preferred).
5. Sign a really good LH bench bat. Maybe Markakis but he will want to start and he’d be an expensive bench piece.

If we have $40M to spend and sign Harper for $25-$30M, the $10M-$15M remaining will easily cover the rest (Realmuto = $5M, Backup C = $3M, LH bat = $2M or less). Removing Teheran’s salary gives you the remaining margin you need for the season.

It’s so easy to see the plan playing out that it’s very hard not to get excited. I’d be tempted to tell Harper to write his own ticket. And we should be willing to meet the Marlins’ asking price.

I agree almost completely with you, Roger. My only exception would be I’d rather have Machado, and package one of Riley/Swanson with Julio for some type of OF on a short deal. Either way, it’s nice to see the money laid out, and to see it’s there.

First off I would trade Teheran Ender and Allard to Toronto for Stroman. Then trade Peterson Toussaint Pache and Riley for Realmuto and Dietrich then I would sign Machado not Harper to play 3rd base something like 7 years 155 Million then i would sign Freeman to an extension that would lock him up for life as a Brave. then the Braves line up should look like this next year

Swanson
Albies
Freeman
Machado
Acuna
Realmuto
Duvall
Dietrich

Bobby….NO WAY will 7 years/$155 mil be ANYWHERE CLOSE to getting Machado signing on the dotted line for The Braves!

Dude is getting MINIMUM 10 years/$300 mil! MINIMUM!

Looks like I was pretty close in that Realmuto seems to be AA’s #1 trade target. Bowman reports that AA was deep in negotiations for Realmuto at the deadline but couldn’t get the deal done.

Kolby Allard looks like the left handed version of Lucas Sims! Neither has overpowering stuff…both have VERY HITTABLE Fastballs that end up in the cheap seats when they are forced to throw a strike OR if they miss their locations!

Allard is going to have to work on BOTH adding a few MPHs to his fastball (not sure how one is able to do that)…..as well as get better LOCATING his pitches.

The name of the game now is having ‘swing and miss’ stuff…and from his 1st two appearances….Allard simply DOES NOT have much ‘swing and miss’!

What an UGLY game so far…Fried gets hurt on the comebacker by Kieboom in the bottom of the 2nd…and now Allard is throwing BP pitches in the bottom of the 4th. 4-1 Nationals so far……I have a BAD FEELING that Newcomb and Folty are going to have a hard time making it through the 5th inning without laboring through 100 pitches in the next two games..which would put The Braves at risk of getting swept this series IF Annibal Sanchez cant save our bullpen on Thursday.

It’s amazing that The Braves are even in competitive right now…given how they are HELLA PRONE to making BUMS look like Cy Freaking Young! This Rodriguez kid for The Nationals HAS NOT gotten anyone out so far in his short MLB career…OTHER than when he’s faced The Braves (during which our hitters make him look like Cy FREAKING Young)!

Of course..it DOES NOT help matters when Brian “I’ll do ANYTHING to put Ender Inciarte’s name back at the leadoff spot of the batting order” Snitker decides to bench Acuna (whose been RAKING in the leadoff spot lately) after an off day yesterday!

I am SO SICK AND TIRED of our manager doing whatever it takes to PLAY FAVORITES while NOT putting The Braves in the best position to win games! Time and time again, he trotted out BOTH Sam Freeman and Peter Moylan in HIGH LEVERAGE SITUATIONS.

When the season is over….our GM AA has to go and look for a younger/more ‘MODERN’ manager who DOES NOT have to be coaxed NOR have to be explained how to interpret stats properly!

What an UGLY effort by The Braves today. Top of the 7th..and Greg “walks everyone/ERA sky high when he was with St. Louis” Holland comes on and STRIKES OUT the side for The Nationals!

What AN EMBARRASSING game in Game 1. How is this team contending?

Of course, all the excuses will be coming out 1. it’s only one game…2. these are MLB pitchers (justifying making Rodriguez and Holland look like Cy Freaking Young)….3. It’s Max Scherzer (justifying us getting SHUT OUT in Game 2).

Freaking tired of the excuses! We had our chances earlier in the year (losing 2 of 3 to both The Padres and Orioles…splitting 4 against The Blue Jays…losing 2 of 3 to the Reds earlier at Cincy….are just SOME of the WINNABLE games that we let slip past us).

Philly has like 10 games left against The Mets….and 6 more left against Florida. They’re playing The Padres this weekend. I DO NOT want to hear ANY Braves fans BITCH about how ‘easy’ The Phillies schedule is the rest of the way…when The Braves HAD THEIR CHANCES against the cream puffs (we only went 8-6 against a HELLA EASY part of our schedule earlier this summer…..IF our team was A LEGIT Playoff Contender, we’d have went 10-4 or 11-3 during that stretch. An 8-6 record is GOOD when it is against GOOD TEAMS…NOT when it is against BAD TEAMS!).

Washington knows that it has to sweep this 4 game series (it would only put them 2 games behind The Braves in the loss column). Once they reel The Braves in, they’ll have a chance to get The Phillies. While The Phillies have their flaws…I feel that their lead is big enough to hold off The Nationals (who, despite probably sweeping The Braves this week, have their own flaws that will prevent them from going on the kind of 16-4 run that they need to go on).

To be honest, I could easily see The Braves going 1-6/0-7 this week against Washington and Milwaukee. I feel that our starting pitching/middle bullpen guys are simply ‘out of gas’ right now. 86 wins (which I predicted would be our win total for 2018 at the end of Spring Training)….will be tough to accomplish if we dont get some type of injection from the likes of callups like Tooki Toussaint, Kyle Wright and Austin Riley. We need pitchers with swing and miss..as well as hitters who can hit some homers! Simple as that!

As UGLY as Game 1 was….I have to give The Braves BIG PROPS for SOMEHOW pulling out the win in Game 2.

Newcomb grinded out 6 innings of 1 run ball….The Braves offense made Scherzer throw 110 pitches through 7 innings (giving our offense a shot at The Nationals Bullpen the last 2 innings). Then The Offense came alive in the top of the 9th with a clutch 2 run double by Inciarte!

While Minter wasnt exactly fooling them in the bottom of the 9th….Carmago turned a game ending double play on that line out by Weiters!

Splitting this doubleheader…was crucial! The Nationals have to feel discouraged..after BEATING UP on us in Game 1..then with Scherzer dealing with a 1-0 lead until Culberson hit that homer off of him in the top of the 6th!

However, Jesse Biddle coming in and SHUTTING DOWN The Nationals in the 7th and 8th innings….played A HUGE ROLE in giving The Braves a chance to win this game! Coppy’s ‘nut squirreling’ signing of Biddle a few years back when he was injured is another example of how Coppy’s Rebuild laid the groundwork for The Braves to be surprising contenders in 2018!

Meanwhile..GO Diamondbacks, beat The Phillies tonight!

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