What If Braves Didn’t Rebuild?

The Braves “reconstruction,” which is really just a rapid rebuild, has been met with its fair share of individuals who have been less than supportive. So what if the Braves had kept everyone in 2014? How would the payroll look? What about the farm system? For simplicity’s sake, we will take the salaries of what players are making this season, since that is probably the most fair way to go about it. Also, we will consider the Braves payroll to be $100M, again for simplicity’s sake. So let’s take a look at what the Braves payroll would look like in 2016, had we kept everyone:

Name

2016 salary

2017 salary

2018 salary

2019 salary

2020 salary

2021 salary

Jason Heyward

17.5

24

24

22.4

23.5

23.5

Melvin Upton

16

17

 

 

 

 

Justin Upton

22.125

22.125

22.125

22.125

22.125

 

Chris Johnson

7.5

9

1

 

 

 

Andrelton Simmons

6.1

8.1

11.1

13.1

15.1

 

Freddie Freeman

12.3

20.8

21.3

21.3

22.3

22.3

Evan Gattis

1

Arb 3

 

 

 

 

Christian Bethancourt

0.5

Arb 1

Arb 2

Arb 3

 

 

Daniel Castro

0.5

TC

TC

Arb 1

Arb 2

Arb 3

Todd Cunnigham

0.5

TC

TC

Arb 1

Arb 2

Arb 3

Phil Gosselin

0.5

TC

Arb 1

Arb 2

Arb 3

 

Julio Teheran

3.5

6.5

8.1

11.1

12

 

Alex Wood

3

Arb 1

Arb 2

Arb 3

 

 

Craig Kimbrel

11.2

13.2

13

 

 

 

Jordan Walden

3.7

5.2

 

 

 

 

Luis Avilan

1.3

Arb 2

Arb 3

 

 

 

David Carpenter

1

 

 

 

 

 

Anthony Varvaro

0.5

Arb 2

Arb 3

 

 

 

Chasen Shreve

0.5

Arb 1

Arb 2

Arb 3

 

 

David Hale

0.5

Arb 1

Arb 2

Arb 3

   
Total

109.725

125.925

100.625

90.025

95.025

45.8

So with a $100M payroll, the Braves would be over by almost $10M. Oh, and that’s only 20 players on the roster. You need 25. Your rotation would consist of Teheran and Wood at 1 and 2, but then David Hale would be your projected third starter. After that? Who knows? Maybe a cheap minor league free agent? Maybe you roll the dice with Lucas Sims as a starter. But what if he’s not ready? Gus Schlosser maybe? The 2016 Braves in this hypothetical world would have a lot of holes and questions just like the current constructed roster does.

Now how many theoretical wins would they be receiving? Let’s look at FanGraphs projections for the 2016 season (I averaged the score of Steamer and Fans (29)):

Name

WAR

Jason Heyward

4.9

Melvin Upton

0.1

Justin Upton

3.4

Chris Johnson

-0.2

Andrelton Simmons

3.2

Freddie Freeman

3.9

Evan Gattis

0.6

Christian Bethancourt

0.1

Daniel Castro

0.1

Todd Cunnigham

0

Phil Gosselin

0

Julio Teheran

2

Alex Wood

1.7

Craig Kimbrel

1.2

Jordan Walden

0.5

Luis Avilan

0.2

David Carpenter

0.2

Anthony Varvaro

0.2

Chasen Shreve

0.3

David Hale

0.4

Total

22.8

Hey! That’s not as bad as I thought it would be. 22.8 WAR between 20 MLB players is what the possible team would project as, had the Braves kept everyone. Just so everyone knows, at 22.8 WAR the Braves would have been slated just two spots ahead of what the current 2016 Braves roster is. Two spots. An extra $30M dollars is the difference between the Braves being placed 28th overall and 26th overall.

If that’s not enough, let’s look at how the farm system stacks up when you compare the two teams, according to BaseballProspectus. You can find their breakdown here.

Current 2016 Top 10 Prospect Ranking

Alternative 2016 Top 10 Prospect Ranking

Name

Position

Name

Position

Dansby Swanson

SS

 

Ozhaino Albies

SS

Sean Newcomb

LHP

Jose Peraza

2B

Ozhaino Albies

SS

 

Kolby Allard

LHP

Aaron Blair

RHP

Mike Soroka

RHP

Kolby Allard

LHP

Austin Riley

3B

Touki Toussaint

RHP

Lucas Sims

RHP

Mike Soroka

RHP

Mauricio Cabrera

RHP

Austin Riley

3B

Johan Camargo

SS

Max Fried

LHP

Braxton Davidson

OF

Lucas Sims

RHP

Garrett Fulenchek

RHP

That’s a big difference. Give me the team that is expected to be a little worse, but will be a little cheaper and be more talented in the minor leagues. Sure the current roster doesn’t have as many big names as the alternative roster does, but this current one doesn’t cripple you financially in the present or in the future. And that alternative roster would be if the Braves kept both Heyward and Upton, which they wouldn’t have been able to do when you factor in payroll. A move would have to have been made to keep both of them, but would they really want to stay on a team that isn’t going to compete. Both went to teams that are vying for the playoffs in 2016. The current and alternative rosters are not.

The Braves were able to turn Jason Heyward and Jordan Walden into Dansby Swanson (their top prospect), Aaron Blair (their No. 3 prospect), Ender Inciarte (their starting center fielder) and Tyrell Jenkins (a dark horse candidate for the starting rotation this season). They turned Justin Upton into Max Fried (their No. 9 prospect), Jace Peterson (a utility infielder), Mallex Smith (a possible long-term option in the outfield) and Dustin Peterson. Sorry, but I don’t think the competitive balance picks net you that return.

And be as mad as you want about Simmons. The guy was fantastic with the glove, but a liability with the bat. Braves brass had lost faith in him and so did I. Can you really pay a guy more than $10M just because he plays the best defense? I can’t.

This current Braves regime is doing the right thing and it doesn’t take much research to see.

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