Nothing ever happens in Braves world, so what we get is payroll and TV deal talk, all of which is pretty much never a good thing. Tim Tucker of the AJC gives us the details in an interview with Terry McGuirk.
He said the Braves have “a little over $90 million right now” committed toward 2012 salaries and will reach the previously undisclosed $94 million budget, up slightly from last year, with acquisitions before or during the season.
“That being said, we inherited a deal that was done under [previous owner Turner Broadcasting/Time Warner] a little over four years ago, before the sale, that lasts out through 25 years. So there is no opportunity for a different deal than the one we have. Every single set of games on the different networks that we are seen on [Fox Sports South, SportSouth and Peachtree TV] are all 25-year deals or thereabouts.”
McGuirk said the deals call for “cost-of-living type increases” each year, but contain no options for renegotiation.
“They were at-market deals when they were done, but the market has changed,” he said. “We will have to look elsewhere for the increases that we will need in revenue to continue to build this franchise. It’s what the owners at the time decided to do, so we have to live with it. ... It’s nothing to be ashamed of, but it’s not going to be these newer deals where there is cash up front.”
Asked if the TV contracts will be a competitive disadvantage for the Braves over the next two decades, McGuirk said: “Let’s just say it won’t be an advantage.”
Basically, the Braves are stuck in no-man's land with their payroll because of little cash flow, and it will only get worse over time with their current TV deal, which will soon become obsolete in Major League Baseball.
This doesn't mean the Braves will become a cellar dweller down the road, but it does mean the front office's room for error will grow smaller and smaller. Player development will become more crucial by the year, and free agency will become an afterthought (it's basically to that point already).
As long as the Braves continue to churn out young talent at a fairly consistent rate, I don't see this as having to be depressing news, though. Keep talent flowing through the system and give yourself a shot at the playoffs every year. Teams are making a living following this way of thinking.