June 24, 2024

In many aspects, the Atlanta Braves are the major league baseball league’s envy.

No Braves player projects to earn more than $22 million annually at any point in their contracts with Atlanta. President of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos and the team’s front office have assembled one of the strongest and deepest MLB rosters in the game, with incredible team control over every defensive position and at competitive prices. Not 2023’s MLB home run leader Matt Olson, not 2023’s strikeout leader Spencer Strider, and not MVP Ronald Acuña Jr.

Although the Braves are expected to be the greatest team in baseball next season, they could still be able to return to the World Series with the help of a few free agents, like as Jordan Montgomery, the postseason hero, or current NL Cy Young winner Blake Snell.

The main issue with pursuing one of those guys is that MLB super-agent Scott Boras represents them, and Atlanta has little to no relationship with Boras.

It’s not as simple as “never deal with Scott Boras.”
The Braves don’t turn down clients from Boras; in 2019, pitcher Dallas Keuchel signed a one-year contract with the organization and finished 8–8 with a 3.75 ERA in 19 starts. However, the team doesn’t turn down clients from Boras either.

(Also, this winter, Boras represented Dylan Cease of the Chicago White Sox, who Atlanta tried to trade for.)

It’s not about the money; Boras’s clients usually rank among the best available on the free agent market and demand the highest salaries annually. However, Atlanta is willing to pay more than their $22 million “cap” for the right player; Josh Donaldson signed a one-year contract for $23 million in 2019, and the final offers made to Freddie Freeman ($5 million for five years) and Aaron Nola ($66 million for six years) would have exceeded that sum as well.

(Keuchel’s prorated full-season pay would have been nearly $22 million, but not more.)

His prorated $13M salary for the season would have been $21.2M had the team signed him in June instead of before the compensatory pick deadline.

Nevertheless, it is a reality that Atlanta normally avoids Scott Boras’s clients, and for good reason.
The rationale is because “we don’t want to do that stuff.”

Probably more than any other baseball agent, Boras is well-known for three things:

Getting his players into free agency, usually by turning down extensions to enter the open market
2) Trying to keep his guys available as long as feasible…
3) To negotiate the finest conditions, both contractually and financially, for his clients.

And that doesn’t fit with Atlanta’s business culture for a number of reasons.

Rather than signing from the free agent market, Anthopoulos likes to prolong his own players, whether they were acquired through trade (Matt Olson, Sean Murphy), signed as foreign free agents (Ronald Acuña Jr., Ozzie Albies), or drafted (Michael Harris II, Spencer Strider, Austin Riley).

And it usually translates into Anthopoulos being able to negotiate better terms than trying to sign a top-tier free agent.

Notable is also the manner in which Atlanta handles those extensions; while they consistently include a 1% payment to the Atlanta Braves Foundation, what’s more noteworthy is what they don’t have: Options for players or mutuals, no-trade agreements, and deferred payments.

No, there aren’t any deferred payments; at this time, the Braves’ roster consists solely of club options. There is no no-trade clause in any Braves player’s contract, and none of them may opt out of their agreement.

(Marlin’s “10-5 Rights” allow players to effectively earn a no-trade clause: after ten years in the league and at least five with their current team, a player has the power to refuse any transaction in which they are involved. While there are presently no Braves players with 10-5 rights, a number of them are expected to acquire them throughout the course of their current contracts, and Anthopoulos has promised that deals involving players who have long-term contracts “will not happen” in the interim.)

The Braves Are Doing The Right Thing for the Organization by Not Dealing with Scott Boras

Another thing that separates Anthopoulos from Boras is that Anthopoulos prefers to move quickly in the offseason (when feasible) in order to sign the players he believes will be good fits for Atlanta before the market can move and alter the acquisition price.

Before the end of December, Atlanta re-signed relievers Joe Jiménez and Pierce Johnson, traded OF Jarred Kelenic to the Seattle Mariners, acquired reliever Aaron Bummer from the Chicago White Sox, acquired starter Chris Sale from the Boston Red Sox, and signed free-agent pitcher Reynaldo López.

 

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