Had the Washington Nationals been able to land Prince Fielder, one of the loudest cheers might have come from Atlanta.
Such a signing would have put the Braves in a battle with the New York Mets for the lowest payroll in the NL East, but it would have been a race that Atlanta CEO Terry McGuirk would have enjoyed.
In a free-agent season where the dollars have flowed freely, a smirking McGuirk tells Tim Tucker of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the Braves aren't going to be lured into the derby anytime soon.
Yes, McGuirk says that he and Liberty Media — the owner of the Braves since 2007 — are quite content to watch it from afar while the Braves payroll maxes out around $94 million this season.
From the AJC:
"In a way, I almost relish when one of our competitors goes in the free-agent market because it's so inefficient and such a bad use of dollars," McGuirk added. "You almost never get the value out of a free-agent market expense. We all have limited dollars to spend, so if someone in wasting those dollars in a competitive situation, it helps us."
McGuirk, of course, neglects to mention the $55 million that the Braves gave Dan Uggla last offseason, but I can see where he's coming from. With their stockpile of young talent, the Braves are in a position where they don't have to leverage the future by signing someone to a nine-figure contract. It's also a great situation for Liberty Media to be in, because it purchased the Braves in large part for the financial benefits. It's a lot easier to get away with being bottom-line minded when you've got youngsters like Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman and Craig Kimbrel covering your rear.
At the same time, you should check out Tucker's story because the Braves' future isn't all that rosy. As McGuirk notes, the Braves are locked into their current TV deals for the next 25 years or so, so they won't be receiving franchise-changing windfalls that teams like the Angels and Rangers used to stock their teams with top-notch talent.
The bright side for Braves fans: The talent the team currently has could increase the franchise's value to the point where Liberty Media would be interested in selling.