Braves executive wants ‘top-five’ payroll after Atlanta’s early exit from playoffs

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The Atlanta Braves were eliminated from the postseason over the weekend by the Philadelphia Phillies, dashing their dreams of becoming Major League Baseball’s first repeat champion in more than two decades. Predictably, the Braves have shifted their focus to the offseason. Team chairman Terry McGuirk even established a new goal recently during an interview with Justin Toscano of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: increasing the team’s payroll further so that it ranks in the top five in the majors.

For context, McGuirk had previously said fielding a top-10 payroll was his goal. The Braves have since accomplished that feat, as they ranked eighth in that respect in 2022, spending just over $200 million, according to Spotrac’s calculations. That isn’t enough for McGuirk, however, who told Toscano: “My goal now is to get to be a top-five (payroll) team.”

While McGuirk didn’t say that would necessarily be the case for the 2023 season, the Braves are currently projected to have the fourth-highest payroll for next year, again per Spotrac’s numbers. There are some obvious caveats worth establishing about that ranking. Foremost, it’s just a projection. Some of the teams ranked directly below the Braves are heavy hitters — the Los Angeles Dodgers, Houston Astros, and New York Yankees — who are likely to scale up their payrolls as they either re-sign key players (eg, Aaron Judge, Clayton Kershaw, Justin Verlander), or add external replacements through free agency and/or trade.

Of course, that’s true for the Braves to some extent, too. Shortstop Dansby Swanson is an impending free agent, but the two sides have expressed public interest in a long-term deal to keep him in Atlanta. Even if Swanson were to leave, the Braves could attempt to replace him by pursuing another notable free-agent shortstop, be it Carlos Correa, Trea Turner, or potentially Xander Bogaerts.

Whatever shape the Braves’ offseason takes, it appears that upper-management is on board with spending some more money in pursuit of another World Series title.

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