Top-5 Payroll, Here We Come!

In case you closed all of your senses off to the outside world, the Braves did a big thing yesterday!

Michael Harris II will be a Brave for a long time, inking an 8 year, $72MM guaranteed deal with 2 club options that could bring the total to $102MM. It’s the latest in extensions Anthopoulos has orchestrated in order to keep this core together, a core that includes (assuming all club options are picked up or *all arb-years picked up):

  1. Ronald Acuña Jr. through 2028
  2. Michael Harris II through 2032
  3. Matt Olson through 2030
  4. Raisel Iglesias through 2025
  5. Eddie Rosario through 2024
  6. Travis d’Arnaud through 2024
  7. Ozzie Albies through 2027
  8. Colin McHugh through 2024
  9. Austin Riley through 2033
  10. Orlando Arcia through 2024
  11. Kirby Yates through 2024
  12. *Mike Soroka through 2024
  13. *Max Fried through 2024
  14. *A.J. Minter through 2024
  15. *Tyler Matzek through 2024
  16. *Kyle Wright through 2026
  17. *Ian Anderson through 2026
  18. *William Contreras through 2028
  19. *Spencer Strider through 2027
  20. *Vaughn Grissom through 2029
  21. *Kyle Muller through 2028
  22. *Jackson Stephens through 2026
  23. *Dylan Lee through 2027
  24. *Freddy Tarnok through 2029
  25. *Bryce Elder through 2029

Payroll? What Payroll?!

After factoring in salaries already on the books for 2023, estimating arb numbers, and sprinkling in pre-arb players, the Braves 2023 payroll would be sitting around $167MM without Charlie Morton and $187MM with him. If the Braves think a top-5 payroll is possible, that would mean an Opening Day Payroll of $215MM+ with $15-$20MM for trade deadline acquisitions.

Rotation

When 2022-23’s offseason kicks off, AA’s list of needs will be short and shorter still should Charlie Morton’s option be picked up (and I hope it is). Jake Odorizzi has a player option, of which he’s already maxed out, and it comes in at $12.5MM with a buyout for $6.25MM. My guess is Odorizzi opts out as he’ll likely be paid more than $6.25MM in free agency. From there, the Braves have enough pitchers to fill out a rotation, then some. However, if Morton decides to retire, the Braves will definitely add and that could mean AA finally lands that ace he’s been wanting. Jacob DeGrom? One can dream.

In dissecting this list, there are 8 starting pitching candidates and 9 if Morton decides to play in 2023. 9 is a good number and surely the Braves will need all of them. Of the 8, Muller, Elder, and Tarnok will likely stay on the Gwinnett shuffle and will have to earn a regular spot in the MLB rotation. It also wouldn’t surprise me to see any of the above in a trade package. Ian Anderson could also be a trade candidate if the Braves can land a SS in return. There’s almost a near certainty that the Braves will give some veteran SP a shot in spring to win a back-end job.

Around the Horn

The Braves have no needs to fill at catcher, 1st base, 2nd base, 3rd base, right field or center field. Depending on what role Vaughn Grissom takes, shortstop super-utility, or LF, the Braves could have the DH, LF or the entire infield covered. My guess is Grissom, with his youth, is utilized around the field to allow players to get rest from fielding duties while keeping the bats in the everyday lineup by utilizing a rotating DH.

So yes…my opinion is the Braves get a SS, but there’s a chance it could either be a LF or DH should Grissom become the SS.

Bring Me Some Relief!

The relief core is set with A.J. Minter, Dylan Lee, and Tyler Matzek as the in-house lefties and Colin McHugh, Kirby Yates, and Raisel Iglesias as righties. If the goal is 8 relievers on the staff, Jackson Stephens should get a shot and there are a handful of players that could make names for themselves before April 2023. However, I’d almost guarantee that AA grabs a “makeup” veteran that fits in the clubhouse and a good bet for that job would be Jesse Chavez, should he choose to pitch again. There really is a TON of options out there and it will likely be the one that just falls into AA’s lap.

My Personal Guesses

  • If Morton returns, the rotation is set with plenty of depth at AAA. If he doesn’t, AA will go hunting.
  • Adam Duvall is a good bet to return as a platoon with Rosario.
  • AA won’t go hard after a RP, rather will wait out the market.
  • AA will spend the majority of his time weighing SS options, and will land on Dansby, maybe even before the season is over.
  • $6MM for Duvall, $2MM for Chavez, $20MM for Dansby. Ride.

Author: Ryan Cothran

Ryan is the site editor and manager of Braves Journal. Follow him on Twitter.

53 thoughts on “Top-5 Payroll, Here We Come!”

  1. @32 in the last thread, Soto ain’t going to get less money. He’s going to get an unfathomable haul in free agency, and should.

    The only one of the Braves extensions that’s hard for me to defend is the Albies extension. All of the others are a completely justifiable balancing of risk. But Harris literally got more than twice as much guaranteed cash as Ozzie. Sure, no one held a gun to Ozzie’s head to make him sign it, I just wish the Braves would have offered him more.

  2. Many of the guys I interact with on Twitter think that the Braves can shop in any aisle since dropping the “Top-5 Payroll” line. That’s just not true. I mean, it’s true if Morton doesn’t come back but only true for 1 player, not more. If the Braves wanted to get DeGrom, they could, but they’d either be settling for Grissom at SS or Arcia there and Grissom rotating.

    If they can somehow attach enough to rid themselves of Ozuna and Morton retires, they can go nuts and shop in the premium aisle for both SP and SS.

    However, my $ is on the plan I proposed. Seems most realistic.

  3. I’m thrilled with the Harris extension–I love everything I’ve seen about the kid. I hope he becomes such a star that everyone will look back and say what a steal it was for the club.

    But as several have pointed out, the risk goes both ways. The comp right now to Jeff Fancouer is almost eerie. After being called up from AA in 2005, Frenchy played in 70 games and had 274 plate appearances. Since MHII was called up directly from AA, he’s played in 71 games with 268 plate appearances. Both 21 years old, both local kids, great athletes, drafted out of high school.

    Frenchy’s offensive numbers in his rookie year are strikingly similar to Harris’: Francouer 300/336/549 and OPS+ of 126; Harris 287/325/500. Although Harris’ OPS is lower, the OPS+ is 124, or almost exactly Francouer’s. Plate discipline, you ask? Frenchy walked 11 times, Harris 10. Of course Harris is the superior defender at a more premium position.

    But my point is, there is risk on the Braves side. Harris, God forbid, could turn out to be an offensive performer like Francouer, who as we all painfully remember, never matched his rookie numbers. I think the team brain trust is aware of all that, and I suspect they figure that Harris will learn, grow, and adjust, which is something Francouer never did.

  4. As to Chief’s query about the projected future of our stars, I am especially bullish on Ronald. I think he may turn out to be the greatest player of his generation. And the key, for me, is his plate discipline. I loved the fact that he walked four times last night. That is the one area in which Soto has been markedly superior. If, as I suspect, Ronald’s walk rate continues to improve, he will close that gap. And RA’s defense and base running are far better than Soto. I would have put Tatis in the running, but….

    It may be that Ronald will continue to be injury prone. But we don’t know that. Besides, even if he is as injury prone as Mickey Mantle, but has a comparable career, I’ll take it!! The Mick is an inner circle HOFer, whose bWAR is 16th all time among position players–and he played fewer seasons than everyone above him on the list.

  5. @1, how much does he get if he breaks his wrist in the next couple months? It’s a crazy risk, in my opinion. He must have insanely huge insurance to even be able to sleep at night.

    RE: payroll … dream big. Give me deGrom and Turner and let’s see what happens.

  6. There’s just not a lot in the minors to attach to Ozuna to make him go away. So sadly, he’s coming back.

    I think Duvall is out too. I like running ROSARIO out there and Grissom as a super utility guy.

    I think we see them trade Pina or TDA for extra cash flow to pay some combo of Dansby, pen or Degrom.

    I’m assuming Morton is done.

  7. Francoeur’s plate discipline in the minors was worse than Harris’s plate discipline in the minors. But the biggest difference, for me, is just basic makeup and baseball IQ. The famous story about the hitting coach moving Harris’s hands down before his first game in the majors, and he immediately adjusted — I don’t think Jeff Francoeur ever had the ability to adjust like that.

  8. Vaughn Grissom’s minor league numbers, small sample size and all, are really really good. A 400 OBP is pretty insane. He’s going to be as good as he wants to be.

  9. They’re saying Vaughn Grissom is too big to play short. But you know who else was 6’3″, 210+?

    ALEXANDER EMMANUEL RODRIGUEZ

    Ipso facto, Vaughn is A-Rod.

    Thank you.

  10. I’m curious what yall think Swanson will get in free agency – clearly he’s been awesome this year but other than 2022 he has been a worse player than Trevor Story, who got 6/$140. Personally I don’t think he gets more than $20M/ year. That being said the Braves should be able to have a $200M payroll; we have top 3 attendance the last couple years and ticket prices are not cheap compared to the Turner field years…they should be able to compete with the Phillies who also currently have a ~$200M payroll.
    I’m interested in what y’all think

  11. If I were the Braves, I’d offer Swanson a 4/$80MM deal tomorrow with a $20MM club option. If he says nay, let him walk.

  12. @3 Like you, I’ve laid eyes on both. Stats aside, Francouer had a slow bat. Harris is quick. And as Alex pointed out, Harris has a functioning brain. They are completely different players.

  13. Just under 3 HR/9 so far from Odorizzi. Rather appropriate return for Hancock.

  14. @8 and 15–I agree–they are very different. Although it’s almost spooky how similar their rookie stats are, there is every reason to believe Harris will learn and grow in a way that Frenchy never did. The Braves FO is very savvy and they know Harris in a way we can’t. I trust their judgment on this.

  15. Odorizzi isn’t going to be in the rotation long at this rate. Not after what the Gwinnett rotation did this past weekend.

  16. Good job by Snit to keep Riley from getting tossed. No idea where the strike zone is tonight so we’re gonna have to go up there hacking.

  17. Riley hitting .200 with 1 hr and 6 rbi since signing contract … hope he hasn’t relaxed too much ….

  18. No reason to use Matzek here. This game was over before it started. Save arms for the weekend.

  19. Jake Odorizzi was drafted by the Brewers, but this is the first time he’s ever been taken the mound for a National League club. Other than his two previous appearances with the Braves, all of his experience against NL teams was in interleague play, logging 159 1/3 innings across 30 starts, with a 3.50 ERA and a 2.79 K/BB. That’s a pretty good season’s worth of work.

    In general, I’d love to bet on the track record. But he sure hasn’t shown us much so far.

  20. Frenchy had the perfect chance to say that a homer here would blow the pergola off this place. Unfortunately, the (inaccurate) cliche won out.

  21. If Showalter tries to stretch Diaz for six outs here, it came within a whisker of failing in Flushing last week. Hmm…..

  22. Hard to blame RAJ for that one; given the jump he got and the location of the pitch, I thought it was basically impossible for them to catch him, but McCann made an awesome throw.

  23. @41 Agreed. I’ve got no problem sending RAJ there with the momentum. If he safe a single surely ties it. This is still far from over.

  24. Come on Riley .. not even close … he is really struggling since Aug 1 when he signed contract …. under .199 .. 1 hr and 6 rbi … we are helping Diaz .. that was a quick 8th … swung at 4 or 5 balls in that inning …

  25. Diaz is basically unhittable. Can’t hurt for down the road if more of our guys get some ABs against him.

  26. Chip complaining about Harris not being on 2nd just after saying the ball was headed for the bullpen.

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