Looking Ahead to 2019

As we all know, the Braves have plenty of money to spend this offseason. I have been thinking about this and the many possibilities there are for the Braves. Among them came a rather intriguing idea. First, however, I want to start by figuring out the definites for next year.

Current Payroll for 2019:

Player Name Salary 2019
Freddie Freeman $21,359,375
Julio Teheran $11,166,668
Ender Inciarte $5,700,000
Total $38,226,043

That’s not a lot of definites. That leaves a lot of cap space, especially with such a young team. A lot of the team is on pre-arbitration (meaning the team decides how much they make, as long as it is at least league-minimum), or regular arbitration.

Player Name Contract Status Estimated Salary 2019
Ozzie Albies Pre-arb $535,000
Ronald Acuña Jr. Pre-arb $535,000
Johan Camargo Pre-arb $535,000
Dansby Swanson Pre-arb $535,000
Preston Tucker Pre-arb $535,000
Jesse Biddle Pre-arb $535,000
Shane Carle Pre-arb $535,000
Max Fried Pre-arb $535,000
Luiz Gohara Pre-arb $535,000
AJ Minter Pre-arb $535,000
Austin Riley Pre-arb $535,000
Mike Soroka Pre-arb $535,000
Evan Phillips Pre-arb $535,000
Mike Foltynewicz Arbitration $4,000,000
Sam Freeman Arbitration $1,100,000
Arodys Vizcaino Arbitration $3,400,000
Dan Winkler Arbitration $3,000,000
Jose Ramirez Arbitration $600,000
Charlie Culberson Arbitration
Brandon McCarthy Team Option

I imagine that the players on pre-arbitration will receive the league-minimum of $535,000 will likely remain the same. That would be a cap hit of $5,885,000, bringing the current total to $44,111,043. Then we bring in arbitration. It is tough to estimate due to the current time within the year we are in (only 1/4 through the season), but based on current performance, I made some estimates, assuming performance remains fairly constant. I personally do not think we will re-sign Charlie Culberson, which is why I left off his expected salary. I think we will let Brandon McCarthy walk.

If everything above were to happen exactly as I estimate for it to, the Braves would have spent a total of $57,281,043. I think we let Nick Markakis walk in FA due to other availabilities. I also think we will re-sign both Tyler Flowers or Kurt Suzuki for around $4M each, bringing the total payroll number up to $64,821,043.

Okay, now for the fun of trying to guess how Alex Anthopoulos will spend it. Since the roster is mostly complete, there are no gaping holes, with the exception of a new outfielder to replace Nick Markakis. The even better news is that Braves CEO, Terry McGuirk, said last year that “now wasn’t the time to increase payroll, but soon.” Obviously, the new stadium increased revenue by quite a bit, and this season, it will probably increase yet again, as more people are getting out and watching this exciting, young Braves team. In 2019, there is a hot free agent market, and this could just be the offseason that McGuirk and Co. decide to bump up that payroll a bit. Even if it were increased by $10M from 2018, that would be huge. The Braves would have roughly $65,500,000 to spend this offseason.

A Braves-fan-favorite to sign would be our longtime rival, Bryce Harper. He wants to get paid big, the Braves have the money and a spot for him (who wouldn’t let’s be honest). He would eat a large sum of that cap space, probably around $30M. It seems huge, but the Braves have the money, and it’d improve the team. Not a lot of other needs, and how fun would it be to see Nationals fans boo him for a change? It would obviously be a huge cap hit, but it might just be worth it.

Manny Machado is another exciting player the Braves could sign this offseason. He would probably cost slightly less than Harper, but would still cost anywhere from $25-30M. You could sign both potentially, but wouldn’t have much more money for anybody else that would make this team go from playoff team to World Series contender. He could potentially come this year through a pre-deadline trade (though it would certainly take a big name prospect as a focal point of the deal).

Craig Kimbrel would probably like to come back to Atlanta as would the fans. He would be an expensive reliever, but he would be a great signing by Atlanta, who is back in contention, and back in need of a true closer. He would probably cost $15-16M, but that would be worth it to see him in a Braves uniform again.

Patrick Corbin is a starting pitcher that would improve any rotation. He would probably cost somewhere in the ballpark of $15M, which the Braves could do and it would be a good signing. Sure, there is a lot of young talent that is really good, but great starting pitchers are tough to come by, and he would provide that.

Another starting pitcher the Braves could sign would be Gio Gonzalez, another current National. The Nationals will not be able to maintain their current roster, and either Harper of Gonzalez will have to go. He would cost around $15M as well, and is another great option, should the Braves follow that route.

Hyun-Jin Ryu is the last starting pitcher who the Braves could pursue and increase the quality of their staff. He would probably be around the same cost as Gonzalez or Corbin but would provide solid production. Teheran, Folty, Soroka, and Newcomb are all likely to be in the rotation, so we would only really need one of the three, but any would be good signings.

If they want to, they could very well sign both Flowers and Suzuki, who have both produced well.

Me personally, I would want the Braves lineup to look like this next year:

1B: Freddie Freeman
2B: Ozzie Albies
3B: Austin Riley
SS: Dansby Swanson
LF: Bryce Harper
CF: Ender Inciarte
RF: Ronald Acuña Jr.
C: Tyler Flowers

Kurt Suzuki
Preston Tucker
Johan Camargo

Julio Teheran
Patrick Corbin
Mike Foltynewicz
Mike Soroka
Sean Newcomb

Jesse Biddle
Shane Carle
AJ Minter
Evan Phillips
Sam Freeman
Arodys Vizcaino
Dan Winkler
Jose Ramirez
Craig Kimbrel

Who do you want the Braves to sign?? Comment below!

Andrew Carter | @AndrewC_Braves

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