Wren, Braves look to future, stay within '14 budget
Extending contracts of young players indicates payroll will increase in coming years
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- While providing Freddie Freeman, Craig Kimbrel, Andrelton Simmons and Julio Teheran long-term extensions over the past two weeks, the Braves have clearly indicated that they plan to increase their payroll within the next few years.
But in the process of constructing these deals, general manager Frank Wren and his staff members stayed within the restraints of this year's budget.
The Braves are currently set to spend at least $93 million on salaries and slightly more than $4 million in signing bonuses. The total will increase courtesy of incentive clauses and the addition of players to the Major League roster throughout the season.
Still, Wren has indicated he will have payroll flexibility to make in-season acquisitions to account for injuries or the need to strengthen an area of the club.
"You escalate when [the players] are paid," Wren said in reference to the extensions. "But for the most part, it hasn't really impacted our 2014 payroll. We still have flexibility to make moves as we go through the season. I think as you look at our long-term payroll, it also fits for us. It has worked out well."
Atlanta's budgetary plans remained in place despite the fact that Simmons and Teheran, who were both at least one year away from being arbitration-eligible, will end up getting more than expected this year. Both players received a $1 million signing bonus with their respective raises.
The seven-year, $58 million deal Simmons received on Thursday calls for him to receive a $1 million salary this season. Teheran will make $800,000 this year, courtesy of the six-year, $32.4 million deal he signed last week. Had they not reached these long-term agreements, both players would have made between $500,000-$600,000 in 2014.
Freeman's eight-year, $135 million contract calls for him to receive a $5.125 million salary and all of his $2.875 million signing bonus this year. This franchise-record deal accounted for the most significant increase in relation to the anticipated cost for any of the players who received extensions.
Had Freeman gone to an arbitration hearing, he would have received either the $5.75 million he requested, or the $4.5 million the club had offered when arbitration figures were exchanged.
This year, Kimbrel will get a $1 million signing bonus and the $7 million salary he is owed courtesy of the four-year, $42 million contract he signed this past weekend. The 25-year-old closer would have gained a salary of either $9 million or $6.55 million had he gone to a salary arbitration hearing.
Jason Heyward's two-year, $13.3 million extension will provide him a $4.5 million salary and $1 million signing bonus this year. The sum of these amounts equals what he was requesting through arbitration. The Braves were offering $5.2 million.
"I think every contract has come in right in the scope of where we anticipated," Wren said. "We really laid it out formally the first week of January. All of these have come in within the ranges we expected. We feel good about that as well."
While the immediate effect had to be accounted for, Wren is obviously more excited about the potential impact each of these extensions will have on the club's future.
"We didn't go into it trying to win the deal per se," Wren said. "We went into it trying to sign players. I think if you go into it with that approach, you have a better chance of being successful. We feel like we have made good deals. We didn't necessarily win the deal in every case. We were able to tie up key components of our club for a long time."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.