Braves CEO Terry McGuirk refuted a published report that said the team reduced its player payroll by 13 percent since last season, and McGuirk also said he doesn’t think Liberty Media will sell the team for some time.
USA Today reported that the Braves began the 2010 season with a $84.4 million payroll.
“That’s not right,” McGuirk said of the figure, about $6 million below what Braves officials had indicated the payroll to be. “That [$84.4 million] doesn’t even make any sense, from an accounting standpoint.
“They’re drawing off of some database that MLB [Major League Baseball has, and whatever snapshot they got, that's not correct. Our [payroll] will have a 9 in front of it.”
The Braves did not announce a specific 2009 payroll amount, and said only that it was between $92 million and $95 million. Making it difficult for others to calculate a 2009 payroll total for the Braves were midseason trades and an unknown insurance payout for Tim Hudson’s salary while he was on the disabled list for most of the season.
This year’s 25-man opening-day roster salaries totaled about $85 million, but the Braves’ own accounting adds several million dollars for incentives that team officials believe Troy Glaus and Takashi Saito are likely to earn, and about $1 million for reliever Scott Proctor, who’s currently finishing his elbow-surgery rehab at Class AAA Gwinnett.
It’s believed the Braves’ own payroll calculation also includes a prorated portion of a $1.25 million buyout on a 2012 option for Nate McLouth — a $10.65 million option.
McGuirk was asked Sunday if the Braves consider their 2010 payroll roughly the same as the team’s 2009 total.
“Yes,” he said, adding that if there was a decline, it was “minimal.
“Our goal would be … there’s no reduction in payroll planned,” McGuirk said. “Payrolls jump around a little bit during the year, but our payroll predominantly is going to be a $90 million-plus payroll.
“That’s where we want it to be. We think that’s about the sweet spot for our organization. That’s how we budget, that’s how we project.”
The Braves have missed the playoffs four consecutive years and home attendance last season was the lowest since the team moved to Turner Field. Still, McGuirk said the Braves insisted the Braves weren’t looking at trimming payroll to cut costs.
“Attendance was down across the league, and everybody probably had to take a hard look at costs,” he said. “But we’re here to win right now. That’s the best way to get revenues up. In our situation, this town is just dying for a winner. That’s the big accelerator to revenues, if we can produce a winner this thing will take off.”
Liberty Media Corp. purchased the Braves from Time Warner in 2007, and Liberty officials do not have direct involvement in the team’s day-to-day operations. Liberty leaves it to McGuirk to oversee those duties.
The Braves’ payroll limits are not set by Liberty but by McGuirk in consultation with other team officials, he has said.
One condition of Liberty’s purchase was that it agreed to retain ownership of the Braves at least through baseball’s current collective bargaining agreement, which runs through the 2011 season.
McGuirk reiterated Sunday, that Liberty officials have not indicated any plans to sell the team once they’re permitted to do so next year.
“Our results of operating the team have been better than they expected,” he said. “Their goals are to hold indefinitely. The tax basis that causes them to be conservative about when and if they ever sell is almost now sort of irrelevant. I think they’re just enjoying it.”