Inching Closer to Free Agency, Braves Pitcher Max Fried Loses Arbitration Battle

Before the start of Spring Training, several players who are arbitration-eligible are in the process of battling over their salaries for 2023. One such player who falls in that category is Braves starter Max Fried, who lost his arbitration battle on February 4. This is the second time that Fried and the Braves have went to arbitration, something to watch going forward as the star lefty inches closer and closer to hitting the free agent market.

Related: Which MLB teams did the worst during the 2022-23 offseason?

A Look at Fried

In terms of production and pure stuff, very few pitchers in the league can compare to Braves LHP Max Fried. Among pitchers who have logged at least 250 innings from 2021-22, Fried — who we rated as one of the ten best starters in MLB — boasts the tenth-best ERA (2.74) and the fifth-best BB/9 (1.87).

The seventh overall pick in the 2012 MLB Draft, Fried induces a ton of weak contact thanks to an impressive arsenal that he has impressive control and command of on the mound. In addition to a mid-90s heater, the 29-year-old owns two impressive breaking balls: a slider that’s a great weapon against left-handed hitters and a plus curveball that had a sparkling 40.8 Whiff% rate in 2022. Not to mention, Fried also owns an above-average changeup that has good movement & fade, and proved to be just as effective as his breaking balls.

Last season in Atlanta, the 2021 World Series champion recorded a very impressive 2.48 ERA , his lowest in a full campaign not counting 2020. Fried won 14 games in a Braves rotation that also included NL Rookie of the Year finalist Spencer Strider, 20 game winner Kyle Wright, and curveball maestro Charlie Morton. That core group will look to get the job done in 2023.

What it Means

Fried will make $13.5 million for 2023, a bit lower than the $15 million that the 29-year-old wanted for this upcoming season. This marks the second straight season that Friend and Braves have went to an arbitration hearing. Last year, Fried won his case and a base salary of $6.85 million. Per Spotrac, Fried is set to be in the top 40 of starters this season, in terms of 2023 salary.

This upcoming season is poised to be a big one for both Fried and the Braves, as Atlanta looks for some revenge after a disappointing end to the 2022 campaign. However, the Braves may not be able to make many more runs to the World Series with the star lefty. After 2023, Fried has just one more year left of arbitration before becoming a free agent after the 2024 season. The class of 2024-25 is expected to be an interesting one, as it’s also set to include Juan Soto and Corbin Burnes.

With the Braves rubbed up against the salary tax threshold, it stands to wonder whether Atlanta will be able to extend Fried between now and the end of 2024. Atlanta has done a terrific job of locking up the likes of Michael Harris, Spencer Strider, and Ronald Acuna Jr. But, those players inked deals very early on in their careers. A deal with Fried would be much more complicated, given Fried’s experience and resume.

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