So the Braves like Freeman four times as much, right? And they couldn't possibly keep them both.
The Braves probably can't afford Freeman and Heyward for the long term, unless Liberty Media authorizes a higher payroll.
That's Fox Sports' Jon Morosi.
I have no idea how he can conclude such a thing based on the information currently known.
That's NBC Sports' Craig Calcaterra.
Morosi might very well be wringing out a muddy narrative from the tandemly announced extensions, as Calcaterra suggests. However, it is worth mentioning that the Braves aren't exactly in a great place in terms of long-term payroll projections. They tend to spend between $90 million and $100 million a year on payroll, and they've done so for some time, but they might also be in a situation where they'll be forced to stagnate in that vicinity while the rest of the league signs massive new TV deals -- even creating their own networks in some, very Dodger-y instances.
The Braves deal, negotiated as the team was being sold by Time Warner to Liberty Media in 2007, is believed to be worth less than $20 million annually to the team. Some have said that figure is closer to $10 million annually, which would place it at the bottom of the major league scale.- Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Their deal runs through 2027. Other new TV deals are reportedly worth between five and ten times that amount on an annual basis. The Braves are in the middle of the pack at present, but they might not be in the near future. Historically thrifty teams like the Royals and Pirates have already bumped up against the Braves payroll window of $90 to $100 million a year.
So, which one of these guys is right? Can Atlanta keep Freeman and Heyward or not?
Well, the simple answer is: Of course they can. But that doesn't mean they'll be able to.
Heyward would've been foolish to sign a long-term extension this winter. He had a pretty good year, but he only played 104 games, largely due to a pitch that got away from Mets starter Jon Niese and broke his jaw. Now, he did look like a pretty awesome All-Star/cyborg hybrid with that quarter-Halo helmet, but simply looking cool isn't enough to earn a big check.
The Braves can fit Heyward into their limited budget of the future. They can. It'd be a tight fit, but they could do it. However, if Heyward has his eyes set on a big deal in free agency, there might not be much they can do about it. And if he puts together a few more healthy seasons -- like he did in 2012 when he went 20/20 and won a Gold Glove in right field -- then he'll surely get a massive deal on the open market.
Atlanta probably tried as hard as they could to lock him up this winter, but Heyward had little motivation to take a discount after down year.
So, no. The Braves didn't choose Freeman over Heyward. And they won't be forced to in the future either. If Heyward prices himself out of Atlanta some day, it won't be because the team has Freeman signed to a reasonable long-term deal. Freeman or no Freeman, the Braves can't compete with teams like the Dodgers and Yankees.
Heyward will end up playing for a team in one of the country's top markets if he's holding out for a $200 million deal. And if he stays healthy, he'll probably deserve one. He and Freeman might end up being the best players at their positions that this generation has to offer. If the Braves are somehow able to lock both of them up with one arm tied behind their back, good for them. That'd be pretty impressive.
But they didn't pick one over the other. It was a matter of timing, not preference.