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):
- Ronald AcuÃ±a Jr. through 2028
- Michael Harris II through 2032
- Matt Olson through 2030
- Raisel Iglesias through 2025
- Eddie Rosario through 2024
- Travis d’Arnaud through 2024
- Ozzie Albies through 2027
- Colin McHugh through 2024
- Austin Riley through 2033
- Orlando Arcia through 2024
- Kirby Yates through 2024
- *Mike Soroka through 2024
- *Max Fried through 2024
- *A.J. Minter through 2024
- *Tyler Matzek through 2024
- *Kyle Wright through 2026
- *Ian Anderson through 2026
- *William Contreras through 2028
- *Spencer Strider through 2027
- *Vaughn Grissom through 2029
- *Kyle Muller through 2028
- *Jackson Stephens through 2026
- *Dylan Lee through 2027
- *Freddy Tarnok through 2029
- *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.
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.