The salary constraints that currently handcuff the Atlanta Braves as middle of the road spenders in Major League Baseball are not going to be taken off any time soon.
If Rick Pitino were running the front office in Atlanta, he would be quoted as saying Ted Turner and his deep pockets are not walking through that door.
According to Braves’ team chairman and CEO Terry McGuirk in a January interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, ownership has set the player payroll budget at $94 million this season.
Even more damaging than Liberty Media’s reluctance to spend money is the 25-year local TV contract that previous ownership, Turner Broadcasting/Time Warner, negotiated over four years ago.
With this emergence of large revenue telecast rights sweeping across MLB, clubs like the Los Angeles Angels can sign players such as Albert Pujols and CJ Wilson to long-term, big-money deals knowing that television money is just around the corner.
A luxury the Braves will not have in the foreseeable future.
Those contracts also affected the recent sale of the Los Angeles Dodgers, with Guggenheim Baseball purchasing the team for a record $2.15-billion.
Mark Cuban, owner of the NBA franchise Dallas Mavericks, summed it up nicely when he told Access Hollywood why his bid to purchase the Dodgers wasn’t enough, “It just didn’t work out. I wanted to buy a baseball team; they were selling a media rights deal.”
With Liberty Media’s strict budget a primary concern moving forward, Atlanta’s front office might have to join the trending approach to solving the problem of a lack of team revenue and extend their young players beyond some of their free agent years.