In a “conversation” with Alex Anthopoulos, Jeff Schultz of theAthletic probed the biggest questions for this Summer. Most of them dealt with money.
It’s been a while since we’ve heard directly from Atlanta Braves General Manager Alex Anthopoulos. Certainly, a few things have evolved over that time.
There were some things that Anthopoulos could not talk about in this interview (subscription required). Among them, was that he didn’t even utter the name “Marcell Ozuna” and immediately threw barriers up against the three questions about that situation.
For most other topics, the answers were typically coy: things like “yeah, that could happen”, or “That’s going to be a topic”. This exchange was particularly helpful:
"I ask our staff: What would you add? And it changes week-to-week, month-to-month. I feel like we can add in every area."
…and by that I mean “no, it wasn’t helpful for us at all”.
There was one question that garnered a clear response. Here’s the exchange, beginning with Schultz’ question, with emphasis added:
"[JS:] So here’s the million-dollar-question, or maybe a few-million-dollar-question: Do you have the freedom to add payroll at the deadline if you want to?[AA:] Things have definitely turned for the better in Georgia and across ballparks. You’ve seen attendance. So we have the resources to add payroll to the club. The outlook is much different than it was in the offseason when there was a lot of uncertainty. We started the year, I think, at 25 percent capacity and we moved up incrementally and we’re up to 100 percent. So we’re absolutely in a position and I’ve been told that as well, that we can add payroll at the trade deadline."
Well, then: payroll can be added. That sounds like an answer independent of the Ozuna situation or any other consideration… well, other than what appears to be a restoration of the revenue streams that the Braves have been used to seeing in recent years.
Indeed, it seems reasonable to believe that the Braves might have established a budget for 2021 that assumed a slower roll-in of attendance increases. Getting a relatively quick jump to 100% capacity certainly has contributed strongly to their revenue projections.
Of course, having money to spend is one thing… having the right player or players to acquire is another thing entirely. As an example, 2 weeks ago it appeared that the Reds might be a team to consider strongly as a July trade partner. Since then they’ve reeled off an 11-3 record and gotten themselves back into the NL Central hunt.
Meanwhile, the Braves themselves could certainly use a run like that just to make themselves look like a playoff contender.
Until that happens, all the money in the world might not matter. But it’s at least nice to know that the resources will be there if this team can make a run.