In a bit of surprising news that was reported over the weekend, the Atlanta Braves could have an increased budget in 2012. The exact number will not be released for obvious competitive reasons.
The news of a potentially increased payroll is a very welcome addition for the club. The Braves have been limited financially since Liberty Media purchased the team in 2007 and many have since grown frustrated with the front office for their inability to lure big-name free agents to Atlanta.
After trading Derek Lowe last week, the team currently has somewhere in the neighborhood of $10 million dollars to spend. This number could increase in the near future, especially if they continue to listen on potential trades for Jair Jurrjens and Martin Prado. And according to Ken Rosenthal, the team is going to listen on offers for just about every player on the roster:
One thing is certain: The Braves aren't standing pat. They can't stand pat, not after the way they collapsed in the final month of the season.
Should the Braves free up money through the trading of Jurrjens, Prado, or any other player, there are quite a few big names on the free agent market that could fill a big hole in Atlanta.
The Braves are without a shortstop and players such as Jose Reyes and Jimmy Rollins are talented and capable of manning the position for years to come. Both will come at a steep price tag and the franchise has strayed away from big-name free agents in the past. With the increased flexibility within the budget, the team may try to make a run at both players.
The other position of immediate need comes in left field. Frank Wren could elect to keep Prado in the outfield, but if he and the front office decide to pursue a full-time left fielder there will be many options on the market.
Everyone from Carlos Beltran to Michael Cuddyer to Grady Sizemore could be a fit, as well as just about every outfielder on the market. Again, though, Wren has tried to avoid large free agent contracts in the last few seasons and may choose to do so once again this time around.
There is nothing suggesting the Braves are on their way to joining the Phillies and Yankees as the big spenders in baseball, but the news of an increased payroll is very exciting. Now it's up to Frank Wren and the front office to spend this money effectively.