Atlanta Braves guide to the 2023 Winter Meetings

A comprehensive guide to the Winter Meetings and what fans should expect from the Braves.

Arizona Diamondbacks v Atlanta Braves
Arizona Diamondbacks v Atlanta Braves / Matthew Grimes Jr./Atlanta Braves/GettyImages
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The Atlanta Braves are preparing for the Winter Meetings to begin Sunday, December 3 in Nashville. Braves fans are clamoring for information on what AA and the team have planned. We cover quite a bit in this article. We explain what the Winter Meetings are, compare the Braves payrolls from 2023 to 2024, how far they are from the competitive balance tax, Terry McGuirk's comments on increasing the payroll, and what we should expect from the Braves during the meetings.

When and where are the Winter Meetings in 2023?

Major League Baseball will begin the Winter Meetings on Sunday, December 3rd at the Gaylord Opryland Resort in Nashville, TN.

What are the Winter Meetings?

Despite the constant flow of texts, emails, and phone calls, you can't replace the ability to close a deal in a face-to-face scenario. MLB's Winter Metings put hundreds of baseball's top executives, player reps, and journalists together at a hotel for three days to help push business along. Trades are made and free-agent deals are discussed in person. Even when a deal isn't made final, the seeds can be planted at the Winter Meetings.

The Winter Meetings also host the MLB Draft Lottery, where the 2024 MLB Draft order will be determined. The Rule 5 Draft will take place, as well as the Hall of Fame contemporary committee announcement.

What was the Braves Opening Day payroll in 2023?

The Atlanta Braves opened the 2023 season with a payroll of $203 million. The AAV (average annual value) of 2023 Opening Day contracts was estimated to be around $240 million.

How the competitive balance tax threshold works

Kevin Burkhardt, Ray C. Davis, Rob Manfred
World Series - Texas Rangers v Arizona Diamondbacks - Game Five / Christian Petersen/GettyImages

The competitive balance tax is also sometimes referred to as the luxury tax. If a team's total AAV payroll exceeds the competitive balance tax (CBT) threshold for that season, they must pay a 20% surcharge on the amount over the CBT.

For example, in 2023 the CBT was set at $233 million and the Braves finished the season with an AAV payroll of around $250 million. That means they paid a 20% tax on the difference between $250 million and $233 million.

$250,000,000 - $233,000,000 = $17,000,000

$17,000,000 x 0.2 = $3,400,000 tax in 2023.

So, the CBT wasn't a terrifying penalty. It was about the price of one year of Nicky Lopez, who earned $3.7 million in 2023.

Part 2: If a team exceeds the CBT for a second consecutive year then the penalty increases to 30%. Once a team hits three consecutive seasons exceeding the threshold, the penalty increases to 50%.

First Year: 20%
Two Consecutive Years: 30%
Three Consecutive Years+: 50%

So... if the Braves exceed the CBT in 2024, they will be paying a 30% surcharge on each dollar they spend over the CBT threshold of $237 million. 2023 was the first season in franchise history the club exceeded the CBT.

Part 3: Here's another catch with the CBT! If you exceed the threshold by $20 million there is an additional surcharge. In fact, there are three levels of increased surcharges that are activated in $20 million increments.

$20 million - $40 million: 12% additional surcharge
$40 million - $60 million: 42.5% additional surcharge in the first year. 45% for each consecutive year.
$60 million+: 60% surcharge

Teams that exceed the threshold by $40 million or more move back 10 places in the subsequent Rule 4 Draft. If the pick is in the top six, then they get to keep that one, and the number two pick gets moved back 10 spots. Easy enough, right?

Next: What is the Braves 2024 payroll entering the winter meetings?