Braves Offseason Primer: Free Agents, Payroll, Offseason Needs

The Braves could look a bit different by the end of this coming offseason.
Sep 22, 2023; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Charlie Morton
Sep 22, 2023; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Charlie Morton / Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Braves are coming off a 2023 season that had plenty of ups and one rather disappointing down in an early playoff exit. All things considered, 2023 was a great year for Atlanta with a dominant regular season performance and tons of individual storylines that made following the team a hell of a lot of fun. More importantly, the team looks like it is going to be very good for a long time as most of their core is under contract for the foreseeable future.

However, that doesn't mean that they don't have some work to do this offseason. In particular, the pitching staff is likely to see a bit of an overhaul especially if some contract options don't get exercised (more on that in a second). Here is a quick primer on most of the basics heading into the Braves offseason.

Braves projected payroll for 2024

Estimated 2024 payroll: $226,129,972
Estimated 2024 luxury tax payroll: $209,371,666

It is probably best to not get too hung up on the exact estimated payroll numbers just yet. While Atlanta does have a good bit of cost certainty in place due to the number of extensions they have signed guys to, they also have a lot of arbitration eligible players and several contract options to sort out which could change the numbers significantly.

The biggest number to keep in mind is the luxury tax threshold which is set to be $237 million in 2024. It is likely that the Braves will push close to that threshold by the end of the offseason, although it is an open question as to whether they will go over that given that this free agent class isn't all that exciting and there are benefits to not going over this year and pushing harder the following offseason.

Braves free agents

Joe Jimenez
Jesse Chavez
Kevin Pillar

Eddie Rosario*
Brad Hand*
Charlie Morton*
Collin McHugh*
Kirby Yates*

In terms of players leaving in free agency, the most notable name is Joe Jimenez who turned into a really solid reliever with the Braves once he got built back up from spinal surgery during the offseason. Jesse Chavez is a free agent again, but odds are that he will come back on minor league deals until the end of time.

The biggest decisions here are the contract options the Braves have with Charlie Morton being at the top of the list. Atlanta has a $20 million contract option for 2024 with Morton, but there is a good bit of uncertainty as to whether he is going to pitch at all next season or if the Braves are willing to bring him back at that number. Rosario's option is cheap enough that he is likely coming back, Hand and McHugh are almost certainly gone, and Kirby Yates is a bit of a mystery although the $4.5 million it would cost to bring him back is honestly a very small risk.

Braves players eligible for arbitration

A.J. Minter

Max Fried

Yonny Chirinos

Michael Soroka

Nick Anderson

Nicky Lopez

Kolby Allard

Ben Heller

Sam Hilliard

Michael Tonkin

Kyle Wright

Andrew Velazquez

Huascar Ynoa

The Braves have managed to dodge the potentially huge arbitration settlements for a lot of their young players by locking them up on early contract extensions which is nice. Max Fried's arbitration case is going to be very interesting as not only is he likely to get the most money by a longshot amongst the Braves guys, but what his contract next season looks like and how arbitration goes given his injury this year will tell us a lot about the likelihood of Atlanta signing him long-term. Yonny Chirinos and sadly Michael Soroka are the two most likely non-tender candidates along with Andrew Velasquez.

Braves offseason needs

Pitching, pitching, pitching. The Braves' lineup is basically set, although it wouldn't be crazy to see them kick the tires on an upgrade in left field. However, the starting rotation is in flux beyond Max Fried and Spencer Strider even with all of the potential internal candidates the Braves have. It is basically a mortal lock that the Braves sign at least one starter. The bullpen is likely to lose some guys although the Braves did bring back Pierce Johnson. There are several bullpen arms that could interest Atlanta in free agency and it is likely that they will snag at least a couple of them.

Braves players eligible for the Rule 5 draft of note

Luis De Avila
Jesse Franklin V
Geraldo Quintero
Tyler Owens
Cody Milligan
Drew Lugbauer

The Rule 5 Draft is a bit complicated, but the short version is that players who have been in the minor leagues for 4-5 seasons (depending on how old they were when they signed) and aren't on an MLB 40-man roster are eligible to be drafted. The Braves have a bunch of players that are eligible, but the above players are the most noteworthy prospects.

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