At this point, the Atlanta Braves' fate this season is all but set heading into the playoffs. Barring the collapse to end all collapses, they will clinch the NL East in the next week or two and are the prohibitive favorites to be the #1 overall seed in the postseason after dominating the Dodgers over the weekend.
After that, it just comes down to lining things up for the postseason run and seeing how far this Braves team can go. However, this is also the time of year when fans start thinking about the offseason and what changes we could see going into the 2024 season. A lot of roster spots for Atlanta are pretty much locked up, but there could be also be some amount of turnover depending on some key choices once the season ends and how aggressive the Braves choose to be when it comes to their payroll.
Current projected 2024 Atlanta Braves' payroll
All Braves payroll figures for the purposes of this have been pulled from Spotrac and are subject to change. Sometimes unknown incentives or details of contracts become public knowledge and can mess with the payroll numbers along with options, buyouts, arbitration figures, and not tendering contracts to arbitration-eligible players. This is an initial glance, not the final numbers. One important figure to keep in mind is the luxury tax threshold which will be $237 million in 2024.
Total projected 2024 payroll: $173,650,000
Projected luxury tax payroll: $162,766,666
Variable costs: The Braves have four key decisions when it comes to club options for the 2024 season starting with Charlie Morton's $20 million club option. Eddie Rosario ($9 million), Collin McHugh ($6 million), and Kirby Yates ($5.75 million) also have club options for next season and all of these players have arguments for and against exercising those options.
After that comes the arbitration eligible guys in Max Fried, Michael Soroka, AJ Minter, Nicky Lopez, Lucas Luetge, Yonny Chirinos, Nick Anderson, and Kyle Wright among others. Fried will be the most expensive player by far in arbitration, but he will almost certainly get tendered a contract along with Minter and Wright. Luetge and Chirinos seem like prime non-tender candidates and the fate of Michael Soroka seems very up in the air at the moment.
How the Braves' current payroll projections could effect them this offseason
With the luxury tax sitting at $237 million for next season, the Braves seemingly have some room to maneuver if they choose. However, how aggressive they can be in free agency is going to come down to their decisions with their club options with Morton being the biggest wild card. Morton has looked good lately, but Charlie's struggles at times this season have been a reminder that he may not be a reliable bet anymore especially for a guy that is gonna cost $20 million. There is also a chance that he could just retire which could force the Braves' hand.
Yates can be an adventure, but his option is cheap enough that it will likely be exercised. Eddie Rosario will probably be back unless the Braves find an upgrade for left field, but Collin McHugh's days with the Braves could be numbered as he has looked decidedly not great for stretches in 2023.
After the options, the biggest impact to the Braves' payroll is going to be whatever Max Fried's arbitration number ends up being. Fried ended up getting $13.5 million in arbitration this year and while he did miss a bunch of time with an arm injury this season, it still seems likely that he will end up getting a significant raise in 2024. The elephant in the room, of course, is whether or not the Braves can work out an extension with Max, but there has been no news on that front for a while.
Minter won't be cheap in his last year of arbitration eligibility either as he got almost $4.3 million for this season. A contract extension adding on a year or two after 2024 isn't entirely unlikely. The rest of the arbitration guys aren't likely to have a huge impact on payroll by themselves, but could add up quickly if the Braves don't non-tender some guys. The biggest decision when it comes to non-tenders is Soroka whose recovery from two Achilles' injuries has not been smooth and he hasn't yet been able to again lock down a spot in the big league rotation.
In short, the Braves are likely to have a bit of money to play with this offseason to address their rotation and maybe left field, but exactly how much is pretty much a coin flip.