Alex Anthopoulos hints at moves, but how big?
The Atlanta Braves have been in the mix competing for the World Series the last several seasons, hoisting the trophy at the end of the year in 2021. 2022 and 2023 featured disappointing, early-season exits both at the hands of the division-rival Philadelphia Phillies.
Clearly, something has to change for the Braves to get back to the penultimate series. General manager Alex Anthopoulos seems to know that, looking to change what has been one of the marquee features of the team's makeup the last several seasons: Cost-effective player contracts.
At the GM Meetings this week, Anthopoulos hinted that the team is read to do some increasing to its payroll:
David O'Brien of The Athletic notes here that Anthopoulos said the payroll would increase again compared to where it ended in 2023.
Here's where the payroll ended the last several seasons, with a percent increase to the year before:
% increase from prior year
Rank among 30 MLB teams
While the Braves World Series-winning year came in a year with payroll depletion, that may have been lightning in a bottle to some degree for Atlanta. It's important to keep in mind the team also made savvy trades (which impacted the payroll) mid-year that season that helped them achieve the ultimate goal.
It's tough to win without spending, even if you can make smart extensions with in-house young players like Atlanta has. That said, payroll management is a balancing act of raw spending and impact per dollar spent. The Mets did an all-out spend last offseason, which worked out terribly.
You have to spend to win, but spending just to spend isn't good, either.
Interestingly, the Braves have hovered right around the top-third mark in the MLB the last three seasons. It'll be interesting to see if they elevate above that this year with an increased spend, or if they merely pace with average cap inflation.
Furthermore, it'll be interesting to see how motivated the team is to make a big splash in free agency to finally get themselves over the hump in the postseason.