The Braves’ signing of free-agent outfielder Marcell Ozuna to a one-year, $18 million contract Tuesday lifted the team’s projected season-opening payroll to about $150 million.
Subsequent moves could increase or decrease that amount before opening day. But the Braves’ projected major-league player payroll is well above where it was at the start of last season ($114.4 million) and, for that matter, above where it was at the end of last season ($138 million, which increased to $144 million after accounting for the buyouts of 2020 options in several players’ contracts).
It will be the highest opening-day payroll in Braves history, topping the $126.1 million of 2017, and currently figures to rank 11th or 12th among the 30 MLB teams.
Ozuna became the fourth free agent signed by the Braves from outside their organization to major-league contracts this offseason, following starting pitcher Cole Hamels (who got the same one-year, $18 million deal as Ozuna), relief pitcher Will Smith (who got a three-year, $40 million contract that will pay him $13 million this year) and catcher Travis d’Arnaud (who got a two-year, $16 million contract that will pay him $8 million this year).
The Braves signed only one player this offseason to a contract of longer than two years (Smith) and again signed no one at the top end of the free-agent market where elite players commanded ultra-long-term deals worth hundreds of millions of dollars (i.e., Gerrit Cole and Anthony Rendon).
With the caveat that spring training is still three weeks away and the start of the regular season about nine weeks away, here’s a look at how the Braves’ opening-day payroll is shaping up:
Freddie Freeman, 1B, $22.36 million
Cole Hamels, SP, $18 million
Marcell Ozuna, OF, $18 million
Mark Melancon, RP, $14 million
Will Smith, RP, $13 million
Travis d’Arnaud, C, $8 million
Ender Inciarte, OF, $7.7 million
Chris Martin, RP, $7 million
Mike Foltynewicz, SP, $6.425 million
Shane Greene, RP, $6.25 million or $6.75 million (depending on arbitration ruling)
Tyler Flowers, C, $4 million
Nick Markakis, OF, $4 million
Adam Duvall, OF, $3.25 million
Dansby Swanson, SS, $3.15 million
Darren O’Day, RP, $2.25 million
Luke Jackson, RP, $1.825 million
Johan Camargo, 3B, $1.7 million
Ronald Acuna, OF, $1 million
Ozzie Albies, 2B, $1 million
Adeiny Hechavarria, IF, $1 million
Charlie Culberson, IF-OF, $1 million**
Felix Hernandez, SP, $1 million**
Grant Dayton, RP, $655,000
Max Fried, SP, TBD*
Sean Newcomb, P, TBD*
Austin Riley, 3B, TBD*
Mike Soroka, SP, TBD*
Jacob Webb, RP, TBD*
Projected total: $148.5 million to $150 million, pending further moves.
* - Pre-arbitration players (Fried, Newcomb, Riley, Soroka, Webb, possibly others) will make slightly above the MLB minimum salary of $563,500. Figure that the combined total of their salaries will be approximately $3 million.
** - Culberson and Hernandez signed minor-league contracts; they will make $1 million each if placed on the major-league roster.
(Note: All figures include 2020 salaries and prorated portions of any signing bonuses paid by the Braves.)
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