The Atlanta Braves have areas of their ball club that they would like to improve upon, but financial restrictions have reportedly given GM Frank Wren very little money to work with. Many of those in Braves Country (myself included) have grown confused and even frustrated with a lack of moves this offseason, although it sounds like there's very little that can be done, even with the departure of Derek Lowe, Nate McLouth, Alex Gonzalez, Kenshin Kawakami and others.
Braves beat writer David O'Brien recently tried to explain why the team is strapped for cash. It's a thorough look at the budget; here are a few of the highlights.
- Nate McLouth's salary will be replaced by Michael Bourn, who will earn approximately $7 million dollars through arbitration. That's essentially a wash when you consider the buyout of McLouth's contract of $7 million and the contract buyout of $1.2 million.
- The $12 million that was opened up from Lowe and Kawakami quickly evaporated with Brian McCann and Dan Uggla receiving hefty raises in 2012. Uggla sees his annual salary rise to $13.5 million after earning just over nine million last year, while McCann bumps up nearly five million to $11.5 million because of contract incentives.
- The money freed up from losing Scott Linebrink, George Sherrill and Peter Moylan combined to be around $5 million, but the team has to account for hefty arbitration raises to Eric O'Flaherty, Martin Prado and Jair Jurrjens. Assuming both Prado and Jurrjens are with the team next Spring, that essentially wipes out the $5 million from the three relievers.
- Finally, because of their production on the field, Freddie Freeman, Jason Heyward and Craig Kimbrel can all expect to earn a little more than they usually would with their rookie contract. Even if this only amounts to half a million or so, it's still a considerable amount with the organization so strapped for cash.
Take into consideration all of the raises that various players will earn in 2012 and the team might have somewhere around $5 million dollars to spend, and that's if Liberty Media stays true to their word of a slightly higher budget.
Until either Prado or Jurrjens get dealt, it's tough to imagine the Braves doing much of anything. It's not that Frank Wren does not want to improve his team; it's that he simply cannot do so without any money to spend.