Braves’ Terry McGuirk discusses payroll plans, Freddie Freeman exit

Credit: Hyosub Shin

Credit: Hyosub Shin

After starting last season near the middle of MLB teams in player payroll, the Braves will open this season among the top 10 spenders and intend to stay there, the team’s top executive said.

Braves Chairman Terry McGuirk discussed payroll plans, the departure of Freddie Freeman and other topics in an interview this week with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Here’s some of what he said:

McGuirk on the payroll: We started last year with the 14th highest payroll (of the 30 teams), and it wasn’t too long ago that we were in the low 20s. Our goal -- and the philosophy of what we tried to build here -- was to get to a top-10 payroll as quickly as we could within the normal growth cycles. And we are there.

This year, we believe we will be a top-10 payroll, and I’d like to march up that list, too. But I’ll take little steps before I can take a few bigger steps. We are not No. 10 in payroll; we probably are going to be No. 8 this year. It hasn’t all settled in yet (with final opening-day roster decisions yet to be made).

Our vision back when we moved here (to Truist Park) was that, as the fans embraced this, as our team began to win, as what we were hoping would happen happened, (it would) give us more economic means to put back into this whole operation.

The economic reality is … that we can compete for a championship every year. That is what our goal is, too. I don’t see anything taking us off this (path) for the foreseeable future.

(Note: By the AJC’s calculation, the Braves’ opening-day payroll projects to be approximately $173 million, although the figure will fluctuate depending on remaining roster decisions and eventually the results of delayed salary arbitration cases. The payroll is up from $130 million at the start of last season, but still far below the biggest-spending teams: the Los Angeles Dodgers at around $275 million and the New York Mets at around $260 million.)

McGuirk on Freeman’s departure: I love Freddie like a son. I know him very, very well. It was difficult. I think if we could all turn back the clock and Freddie could maybe take more charge of what happened and not put it in the hands of his representatives. ...

We’ve had to close the book on Freddie and start thinking about how we win games this year. But as a memory, he’s going to be very special for us. We’re going to celebrate him when he comes back into town, and we’ll always love him.

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

McGuirk on general manager Alex Anthopoulos’ work: I would dare say he may be the best in the business now at this job. I know a lot about every franchise, I know how they operate, I see the personnel, and I don’t think there is anybody who can do the job like Alex can.

It’s a very hard job. It’s a 24/7 beat where you’re constantly thinking and rejecting and trying to understand. It’s a calculus question because the market is constantly changing, and your needs change as there are injuries and performance lapses or excellent performances. He and I talk probably an hour every day. … I think the fan allegiance to him is not by mistake.

McGuirk on Truist Park and The Battery Atlanta: We’re on this glide slope of growth here in the new stadium and The Battery. (Last season) was sort of the first culmination of what we actually had planned, of our vision. … I can still see Fox sportscasters marveling at the incredible sea of fans in The Battery (during the World Series) and remarking they’d never seen anything like it. … We set the stage for it, we built this house for it, and the fans responded.

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