Atlanta Braves: Breaking Down the Arbitration Cases For Max Fried and A.J. Minter
With the offseason in full swing, we will pretty soon be hearing some arbitration news from across the league. The deadline for arbitration-eligible players and teams to negotiate salaries is this Friday, January 13, meaning the Atlanta Braves are likely in deep conversations with their eligible players regarding their salaries and value with the 2023 MLB season on the horizon.
While the Braves had six players eligible for arbitration coming into this offseason assuming they kept them all, free agency and previous roster moves means there are two players from their valuable pitching core that are going to be the club’s main focus in the coming days: Max Fried and A.J. Minter.
The Braves have one of the strongest pitching rotations in the league, and with their ace likely heading to arbitration very soon, it’s no secret that the Braves will want to keep him and Minter happy with their salary, given in a team-friendly way that general manager Alex Anthopoulos likes to do with his players.
With the arbitration deadline just days away, here are the cases for Max Fried and A.J. Minter.
The Case of Max Fried
Fried is coming off of season where he was selected to his first All Star game and was a runner up for the NL Cy Young Award. In 2022, he pitched 185.1 innings, achieving a 2.48 ERA with 179 SO, and a 14-7 record as a starter.
Obviously, any Braves fan would know that Fried is an important piece to a team that is looking to contend for an extended period of time, and it is important that the two sides will be able to come to an agreement come Friday.
Fried is currently projected to earn around $12.2 million in arbitration, via MLB Trade Rumors, which sounds about right for a player of his caliber. However, it won’t be surprising if Fried tries to command more than that, given his recent performances on the mound as well as his importance to the club’s pitching rotation. It is also possible we could see contract extension talks heat up between the Braves and Fried, given that Fried has two years of arbitration left on his contract before becoming a free agent in 2025.
An extension could buy out the rest of his arbitration years to keep him in Atlanta for the foreseeable future, but as of right now the ball for a contract extension has not been moving. For now, it is likely that Fried will be taking his case into arbitration before news of an extension could be made.
The Case of A.J. Minter
Minter had a solid season in 2022, where he pitched 70.0 innings, achieving a 2.06 ERA, 94 strikeouts and five saves, along with a 5-4 record.
Minter is currently projected at $5.0MM, via MLB Trade Rumors, which would be a lot higher than the $2.2MM he agreed to with the Braves in the previous season. However, it doesn’t seem likely that the Braves will give him a number at or above the $5 million mark, due to how the current arbitration system values relievers.
It is unclear how the Braves will handle his case, but it seems likely that Minter will be more cooperative with the club over his salary, meaning it is possible that we could see his case settled before the deadline. If not, the Braves will most certainly give him an offer below what he is currently projected to earn in arbitration. In addition to settling his case, they could decide on an extension, but it is currently unlikely given Fried’s contract situation, which the Braves will probably want to address first and foremost.
Regardless of what the outcome may be for Fried and Minter, it is without a doubt that they will want to settle their cases as smoothly as possible in order to retain the bullpen for the longer term. We will just have to wait and see how they will come about this.