Alex Anthopoulos hints at more financial flexibility for the Braves
Let’s be honest. Most of the fans of the Atlanta Braves do not trust the ownership of Liberty Media. It’s not Ted Turner, not even Tony Ressler or Arthur Blank. It’s a big corporation.
Many are still skeptical about how much this ownership will spend to help the Braves get a championship. It didn’t help that free agent Josh Donaldson just signed with the Minnesota Twins for more money.
But general manager Alex Anthopoulos said some things today at the Chop Fest that might deserve our attention.
First, when he was talking about the process of seeing Donaldson leave for the Twins and then pivot to signing Marcell Ozuna, Anthopoulos dropped this bombshell.
“There was a time, right when Donaldson was about to come off the board and sign, that we for about an hour or so talked about what if we got both,” Anthopoulos said in a Q&A with fans. “And I’m not trying to do a tease. But we wanted to be creative and said that four and five (spots) would be really nuts. So, we are always open-minded to doing things. And we are always going to try and be creative and always going to continue to add.”
Anthopoulos then continued about how much leeway he has to continue to add talent to help this roster be the best it can be for the 2020 season.
“I can tell you. I was talking to Terry McGuirk the other day. And obviously, we’ve done a lot so far this winter. Very supportive. He just told me the other day… he’s like, ‘Look, I want you to continue. If there is something else that you think is big and impactful and can continue to drive us forward and put us over the top, I want you to go for it. I want you to try and do it.’ I’m like, ‘Wow. I can just keep going and going?’ He’s like, ‘Yeah.’ It was exciting to hear.”
A lot of fans asked the Braves general manager about making another move, a splash move. However, he said he had faith in Austin Riley and Johan Camargo, the two young players who will go to camp with a chance to win the third base job.
Anthopoulos has continually said that ownership, notably the point man for that ownership McGuirk, has never gotten in his way of making a big move that included a financial decision.
“I told him (McGuirk) this at the time,” Anthopoulos continued. “I said, look, in the two years we’ve worked together, I have not had a time when I brought him something, from a baseball standpoint, that I felt this was a great day, we really love this, and he’s told me no. Not once.”
So, if Riley or Camargo don’t lock down the job, maybe there is a chance Anthopoulos could explore other options. Maybe it should be appreciated how much the Braves have done this winter and how much more they could do if there is a need for more talent this spring or during the season.
The Braves had a lot of money coming off the books after last season, and they have spent it. Will Smith signed a three-year deal for $40 million. Starting pitcher Cole Hamels and outfielder Marcell Ozuna both have one-year contracts for $18 million each. And catcher Travis d’Arnaud came on a two-year agreement for $8 million in each of the next two seasons.
Plus, the Braves re-signed relievers Chris Martin (two years, $14 million) and Darren O’Day ($2.25 million and an option for 2021), Tyler Flowers and Nick Markakis (both at $4 million each) and infielder Adeiny Hechavarria ($1 million).
Last year’s payroll ended at near $144 million. Right now, the projected payroll is around $148 million. The Braves said the payroll would continue would increase as more money was made at the Battery, and maybe they are (finally) showing us that it’s actually going to happen.
Anthopoulos’ moves will tell the truth in that. If there is a huge need, and if Anthopoulos spends more of Liberty Media’s money, then perhaps the ownership is, in fact, all in. Time will tell, but there are good signs that progress is being made with Liberty Media actually wanting this team to have a chance to win it all.
Listen to The Bill Shanks Show weekdays at 3:00 p.m. ET on Middle Georgia’s ESPN. You can listen online at TheSuperStations.com. Follow Bill on Twitter at @billshanks and you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.