The Braves may be moving into a new stadium soon, but with the Phillies’ latest 25-year, $2.5 billion TV deal with Comcast SportsNet, Grant Brisbee of SB Nation argues that the Braves have more in common with the Rays than the rival Phillies, Mets, and Nationals.
Brisbee notes that in 2000, the Braves had the third-highest payroll among all 30 teams at $86 million. They stayed in the top-ten through 2006, but have had the 15th or 16th highest payroll in each of the past four seasons, hovering between $84 and $90 million. Their current TV deal, to compare to that of the Phillies, will give them between $200 and $400 million over 20 years. Even in a vain attempt to put lipstick on a pig, Braves CEO Terry McGuirk admitted the team’s TV deal is bad:
“We have a long-term, 20-year deal. It is what it is. It was a deal that we didn’t like when we saw it, when we inherited it. And we knew that in the performance of time, it would probably not be the deal that we would like to have in the marketplace to exploit…. It’s not the only lever and dial we have to pull and turn to make this thing work, and we just have to be a little bit better in a bunch of other areas. And I think we are.”
If the Braves had more payroll flexibility, they may not have lost catcher Brian McCann to free agency and they may have been able to replace Tim Hudson with someone better than Gavin Floyd. They could happily sign Freddie Freeman to a contract extension to buy out his three years of arbitration eligibility and a year or two of free agency. If they so desired, they could do the same with Kris Medlen, Craig Kimbrel, and eventually Andrelton Simmons as well. But, as McGuirk says, they will instead have to be “a little bit better in a bunch of other areas”, just like the Rays. To their credit, they certainly have been, developing a ton of Major League-quality talent over the years.