The major league minimum salary was $316,000 last year. It will be somewhat higher next year; there’s an escalator which is tied to revenues or average salary or something. My guess would be $330,000.
One thing this means is that trading players like Adam LaRoche who don’t make much more than the minimum (he made $337,500 last year) doesn’t help the ballclub’s finances at all. You just replace him with someone else making about the minimum.
Also, this means that the real savings of trading away, say, a $2 million contract are more like $1.67 million, even if you replace the player with a rookie. Any veteran free agent, even one signed to a minor league deal, will make more.
The Braves have only a few players who make significant money. The median salary for the Braves last year was the $1 million Julio Franco and Raul Mondesi got.
Everybody gets a big raise in arbitration. The most fringe of players — Kevin Gryboski, say — will more than double his salary during his first arbitration year. A good player will make more money in his first arbitration year than in his life to date.
This means that guys like Sosa, Estrada, and Ramirez will get big raises, even if (like the last two) they had bad years. All will make more than last year’s median salary.
Given all of this, it’s hard to find the additional $4 million for Furcal unless you trade Thomson and/or Giles.