Atlanta Braves: Losing in arbitration won't bother Max Fried

Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Max Fried looks forward to another Cy Young caliber season.
Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Max Fried looks forward to another Cy Young caliber season. / Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
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Atlanta Braves
Atlanta Braves players from left Austin Riley , Ian Anderson and Max Fried / Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

No Hard Feelings

While the media and union talk about players losing in arbitration, that doesn’t happen. Even when the panel sides with the team, the player wins insight into next year and scores a PR victory for the union while giving up anything. This is why most players and teams would rather find a solution they fight the PR aftermath.

Players that do take part should think twice about attending the hearing if they don’t understand that business is business. See also Marcus Stroman. I don’t know if Fried attended the hearing, but I doubt he took it personally or holds a grudge against the Atlanta Braves.

The hearing was a strategic decision by Fried and his agent to set the stage for next year. He’s not mad; I doubt he expected to win.

As I was getting ready to publish this morning, I saw this quote from former Marlins President David Sampson.

"“I promise you that Max Fried has zero ill will towards the Atlanta Braves for taking him to arbitration . . .Zero. It is all manufactured. Agents. . .(trying) to make owners uncomfortable. . . to get owners to settle , , ,to overpay . . . . . . Max Fried is going to perform . . . he’s not thinking about it anymore, he’s focused on winning the Cy Young and, more importantly, getting back to the World Series.”"

Atlanta Braves Could Extend Fried

The Braves are paying him $1.5M more than projections, so they value him highly, and an extension is possible after the season begins. Morton’s contract. along with several others, end after this season, and the CBT threshold goes up in 2024. Fried will pitch at 31 in 2025, but on David O'Brien's 755 is Alive podcast, AA explained what makes him a pitcher to build around.

"“Max is a stud . . , great in the clubhouse, and he’s the type . . . to age well . . . he keeps getting better. . .he came up as the curveball, heater, super athlete . . .(and) developed a slider on his own, developed the two-seamer on his own, developed a changeup on his own.”"

The last time we saw a comparable contract was 2019, when the Dodgers gave Clayton Kershaw a three-year $93M deal. Fried doesn't have the history of Kershaw, or Chris Sale, who received a five-year $145M deal with lots of options after 2018.

Fried's 2022 was better than Kershaw's 2019 but not quite as good as Sale's 2028, nor does he have the stuff Sale flashed that year. But as AA said, Fried is a stud, so a six-year $156M extension that buys out his last Arbitration year and adds five guaranteed years looks reasonable.

That’s a Wrap

Despite complaints from both sides of the aisle, baseball arbitration is a success. The system ended player holdouts, forcing teams and players to sit down and negotiate agreements rather than beat each other up verbally, and ushered in continuously increasing player salaries.

The Atlanta Braves' offer to Fried was less than he’d have earned in free agency, but that’s always going to happen. His contract exceeds all projections by at least $1M and sets him up to hit or pass the $20M mark next year. No one was cheated, lowballed, or snubbed, and Max isn't worried about it.