29. What's the Braves budget for next season?

Here's a sneak peak of what the Braves budget might look like for the offseason.

Before we know, or even can predict what the Braves will do this offseason, it's important to know what they are dealing with financially.

The budget has been loosened a bit by the ownership of Liberty Media. It did rise last season, after being stuck around $80 million in the last few years of the Time Warner era.

So let's first look at the guaranteed contracts that the Braves have for 2010:

$15.000 – Derek Lowe
$13.000 – Chipper Jones
$11.500 – Javier Vazquez
$09.000 – Tim Hudson
$06.667 – Kenshin Kawakami
$05.500 – Brian McCann
$04.500 – Nate McLouth
$02.225 – Omar Infante
$01.600 – David Ross

That's nine players, or 36% of the 25-man roster, for a total of $68.992.

If we're going to go on a $100 million payroll, that would leave $31.008 million remaining for 16 spots.

Now let's look at the arbitration-eligible players and their projected 2010 salaries:

$1.7500 – Matt Diaz
$0.8500 – Peter Moylan
$0.4500 – Boone Logan
Kelly Johnson and Ryan Church – potential non-tenders

That's a total of $3.05 million. So add that to the guaranteed salaries, and that's $72.042 for 12 players.

Then you look at the players below the arbitration-eligible line whose salaries will be renewed automatically or negotiated. Here are those players and projected salaries:

$0.500 – Jair Jurrjens
$0.500 – Yunel Escobar
$0.450 – Eric O'Flaherty
$0.450 – Martin Prado
$0.425 – Manny Acosta
$0.415 – Tommy Hanson
$0.415 – Kris Medlen
$0.405 – Jordan Schafer

That's a total of $3.56 million. So add that to the guaranteed salaries and the arbitration-eligible players, and that's a complete total of $75.602 million for 20 players.

Obviously, we're projected a payroll for more than 25 players, since all teams will use more than 25 players over the course of the season. And there are some players (Acosta and Logan, for example) who might not be on the team in spring training.

But going with this figures, that would leave around $24 million left to spend this offseason, with all the potential free agents (Rafael Soriano, Mike Gonzalez, Adam LaRoche, Greg Norton, and Garret Anderson) not being counted.

Of course, the Braves need a closer. They need a first baseman. And they need another bat for the lineup. But can they do it with $24 million?

The main thing to keep in mind is the potential for a trade of one of the starting pitchers. That could fill one of the openings.

If the Braves are able to find a team to take Derek Lowe and his big $15 million contract off the books, they will have even more flexibility.

So the Braves are going to have the chance to improve the roster. Trades could impact the amount of money they have available, but there will be enough. It's just a matter of how the Braves spread out the money they have to spend.

Bill Shanks hosts The Bill Shanks Show on WFSM Fox Sports 1670 in Macon, Georgia and The Braves Show Talk Show. Shanks writes a weekly baseball column for The Macon Telegraph and is the author of Scout's Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team. You can email Bill at thebravesshow@email.com and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/billshanks.

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