Could the Atlanta Braves' payroll be tapped out already?

The Atlanta Braves made a promise that payroll would increase in 2024 but recent comments have fans worried about the teams true financial standing.

Chicago White Sox v Atlanta Braves
Chicago White Sox v Atlanta Braves / Brandon Sloter/GettyImages

The Atlanta Braves are apparently planning on increasing payroll according to Alex Anthopoulos. However, recent comments surrounding why Kyle Wright was traded have some worried that the Braves may not be major players in free agency as originally thought.

Justin Toscano of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution shared a story via X (formerly known as Twitter) that talked about Kyle Wright being just as shocked as fans about being traded away to the Royals in exchange for Jackson Kowar.

Wright is expected to miss the entire 2024 season due to having shoulder surgery on a torn capsule. This injury is a tough one to recover from so expect Kansas City to take their time with bringing Kyle back. No matter what team he is on, we want him to have the best shot to be the pitcher we all know he can be.

Now, back to the comments he made about being traded. Wright mentions, "Pretty much that he had a number that he was given from up top, and that’s what he had to work with.”

He, of course, referencing Alex Anthopoulos. It's no secret that the Braves have been making more money since winning the World Series so why does he need to be careful? He had just told fans the team would be increasing payroll.

Well, these comments coupled with the Braves stating they want to stretch out their recent acquisition, Reynaldo Lopez, to potentially start games. Lopez was a starter in the past but didn't have much success. This likely has some fans worried that Atlanta will not utilize the free agent market to grab a pitcher like Sonny Gray or Blake Snell to improve the rotation.

However, I don't believe that is the case. The Braves have seen the consequences of not having strong starting depth in the playoffs for two years in a row. Atlanta cannot afford to make that mistake again.

Justin Toscano further clarifies Wright's comments stating that Kyle wasn't a part of the Braves' plans for 2024 and not that they don't plan to spend big. Wright actually went on to state he hopes Atlanta does spend money.

"I think that’s what the Braves should be doing, is trying to go make some big additions. I hope it’s the latter. I don’t know exactly which one. Only Alex knows that. Obviously, we’ll find that out more as the offseason goes along.”"

Kyle Wright

It's also plausible the Atlanta front office was using the financials as a way to soften the blow of trading Wright away. There's still plenty of time left for them to make a big move but the comments on Lopez starting didn't instill confidence.

Hoping Lopez can be a starting option isn't a horrible idea in theory but he can't be the only option to solve the vacancy. Sonny Gray is too good of a fit for the Braves and they'd be crazy to not make sure he's in a Braves uniform in 2024.

However, we still do not know the amount that the Braves have left to spend and they're already on pace to surpass the record $203 million payroll from 2023. That would also put them over the luxury tax threshold for the second season in a row.

The Braves reportedly made a decent-sized offer of 6-years/$162 million which would have put them in a tight spot financially. It would have also cost them two draft picks and $1 million in international bonus money since Nola rejected a qualifying offer.

What we can take from the Braves offering that contract to Nola is that there is some truth to AA saying the team will increase payroll. They are clearly willing to hand out a contract for the right player.

Right now, the 2024 payroll is estimated at $207 million but their CBT, which is based on the average annual value of contracts, sits around $242 million. The base threshold will be $237 million next year, putting them over the threshold already.

This obviously is before they add any other big free-agent deals. So, that will be something they'll heavily consider. As a second-time payor, the tax rate will increase by 10% in 2024.

The Braves have always made the right moves with Anthopoulos at the reigns but they've yet to have an offseason where they add a big-name free agent. This is as good of a time as any for them to change that and add a big-name starter like Gray or Snell, for example. But that CBT number will loom large.

Adding one more starter and getting a decent left-field option like Lourdes Gurriel Jr. should be the remaining focus of the offseason. As well as building back some depth on the 40-man roster. Outside of that, Atlanta has a great core to carry into 2023.

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