Braves Avoid Arbitration with 7 of 8

What would an extension for Atlanta Braves ace Max Fried look like?

The Braves and AA went into the offseason with 4 unknown salaries as A.J. Minter, Mike Soroka, Tyler Matzek, and Max Fried were all arb-eligible. Over the next few months, the Braves swung trades for Sean Murphy, Dennis Santana, Lucas Luetge, and Joe Jimenez, giving them 8 players expected to be on the big league team to hit arbitration.

ME FIRST! NO ME!

The first 2 of the 8 to get a new deal was Tyler Matzek and Mike Soroka. On November 18th, AA signed Matzek to a 2/$3.1MM deal with a 5.5MM club option, and signed Soroka to a 1/$2.8MM deal. Matzek had TJ surgery on October 12 and will be sidelined the entire 2023 season. Soroka is expected to compete for the 5th starter spot, but does have an option should the powers that be deem him not ready. This is the last year of options for Soroka.

That’s Murphy’s Money

The next of the group to get the guaranteed bucks was Sean Murphy, who signed a 6 year extension that will pay him $73MM with a $15MM club option. I’m excited to see him control the running game in a league that will be adapting to some interesting new rules.

Arb-Day Signings

Today is always an exciting day for payroll people like me as the unknown for so many players becomes concrete. The Braves did well by getting 4 of the remaining 5 to avoid arbitration:

  • Dennis Santana: $1MM
  • A.J. Minter: $4.2875MM
  • Lucas Luetge: $1.55MM
  • Joe Jimenez: $2.765MM

The Fried Elephant in the Room

That leaves who most consider the ace of the Braves staff who, once again, is headed to arbitration. Fried is expected to make nearly $13MM through arbitration and is arb-eligible for the 4th and final time in 2024. It’s my expectation that Max Fried, the Braves MLBPA rep, will go through the arbitration process and test free agency after the 2024 season, but I’ll fully admit that I’m hoping for a pleasant surprise as Fried is a pitcher worth keeping around for a long time.

Author: Ryan Cothran

Ryan is the site editor and manager of Braves Journal. Follow him on Twitter.

25 thoughts on “Braves Avoid Arbitration with 7 of 8”

  1. Don’t see how the Braves can extend Fried with the self imposed 21/22 a year cap. It would be a huge improvement to keep him around. I believe he will be incredibly good for a long long time. After 24 I believe the only starters for now under contract are wright and strider. I believe in fried’s longevity and crazy I would love to extend Soroka after two months of good starts for around 10 a year for 5 years. I know I am a fan but I feel they both will pitch well for a long long time.

  2. Fried’s gone after 2024. Longterm deals for pitchers always end in tears.

    A rotation of Strider, Wright, two of Soroka/Anderson/Elder/Shuster and whatever free agent AA gets doesn’t sound so bad.

  3. Maybe Fried is bound and determined to get every penny he’s worth. But I wonder if Fried would be open to this:

    2023: $15M (arb year)
    2024: $24M (arb year)
    2025: $25M
    2026: $25M
    2027: $27M
    2028: $27M

    6/$142M guarantee

    The upside for Fried is that he can hit the market again at age 35 versus age 37. Given the movement of the free agent market for pitchers in the last few years, he should easily be able to reel in another $100M+ at age 35 if still healthy and excellent.

  4. @4 No. Dude is gonna get paid, especially after this offseason, and nothing suggests he’s remotely interested in not getting to free agency.

  5. The fact that a couple of slam-dunk Hall-of-Famers in Scherzer and Verlander have continued to sign historic deals late in their careers doesn’t change the math on pitchers more generally. Fried isn’t leaving $60 million or more on the table on the assumption that he’ll still be an ace at 35 and can reel in a few more high-end deals, nor should he.

    If I were Fried, I’d be instructing my representatives to approach my FA as if it was my last chance to get a big deal. If it’s not, then hey, good for me.

    Enjoy Max while you’ve got him. If you’ve got your heart set on keeping him around, I’m afraid you’re setting yourself up for disappointment.

  6. Whoa. So is he basically automatically one of our top 5 prospects?

  7. I’m just glad to see international signings happening on a regular basis again. It’s amazing our system has been as good as it’s been without them.

    Somewhat related, but was it ever revealed why the Braves cut Brian Bridges loose? Was it the Carter Stewart issue or just a case of AA wanting his own guy in that role?

    Ryan, congrats on the new addition.

  8. His description/scouting reports sound a lot like Diego Benetez who I ranked 17th this offseason. If the team brings him stateside this season we might get a better idea of what he might become. Obviously, I hope he turns into Mike Trout but let’s pump the brakes for a little while.

  9. @9 I was just reacting to the overall condition of the farm that our top international signee, a top 50 guy, might already be really high on the list.

    @8 Yeah, that’s what had me excited: finally a legit prospect from the international market.

  10. Question born of ignorance, but why is he available as a 17-year-old? Why didn’t he sign as a 16-year-old?

  11. The only comment I have seen was that he was a)undersized b)not impressive as a 15 year old, and c)Venezuela was on the verge of civil war. The one scout’s quote I have seen on him said he went from nowhere to the overall top-10 over the last 6 months

  12. That just goes to show that nobody really knows what they’re buying with these guys. Always remember that Kevin Maitan was a generational prospect and Ronald Acuna, Jr signed for $100,000.

    It’s better to have them than not, but this is only the first step when it comes to rebuilding the farm system, so it’s best not to get too excited about them yet. It will probably be at least two years before we even start to have an idea about any of these guys.

  13. @13 I’m definitely going to get excited that the other half of the only 2 amateur talent acquisition streams has been turned back on. He may not be anything, but if this run is to continue, we need these guys. Our best position player prospect only got us a reliever with one year of control. We thin.

  14. The Mets would have been crazy not to have at least talked to the Doctor who failed Correa. It alarms me a bit that they did.

  15. @14 — In general, yes, but it’s entirely likely that their signing will be the last you ever hear of half of these guys. Don’t start printing jerseys or including them in your Bryan Reynolds trade packages, is all I’m saying. Rebuilding a farm system from basically nothing is an endeavor that takes years, and a handful of teenage Latin American prospects (who are still some distance away from even being enough of a guy to be a piece of a trade package) is only a part of that.

  16. @17 Amen to that.

    I have a ton of baseball cards of fellas I thought were undoubtedly the next wave of Atlanta Braves. (remember Bubba Nelson, Travis Wilson, Jose Cappelan, A.J. Zapp, Adam Wainwright – whatever happened to those guys?)

    The bigs are a tough nut to crack. The proportion on minor leaguers who actually make it up is tiny. The proportion who can stick is even tinier.

    Read The Bullpen Gospels by Dirk Hayhurst if you get a chance.

  17. I’d like to think some of the Venezuelans could join Ronald and have Ronald be our senior diplomat. Soon we should be counting on Acuna’s veteran leadership.

  18. The odds:
    About 1 in 2 published signings get off the island to the complexes
    About 1 in 3 players at the complex level will see appreciable time in A ball
    About 1 in 2 A ball players see A+
    About 2 in 5 A+ players get to AA
    About 1 in 2 AA players make it to AAA
    1 in 6 AAA players will crack 5 WAR in the majors

    Now, when talking $2M+ guys, ALL of them make AA and about 1 in 4 will get 5+ WAR

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