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Tribune News Service
Tribune News Service
Justin Toscano

Braves agree to contracts with all arbitration-eligible players except Max Fried

ATLANTA — The Braves and Max Fried could not come to an agreement on a contract for 2023 before Friday’s deadline for teams and arbitration-eligible players to exchange salary figures. The Braves and Fried presumably will head to an arbitration hearing in the near future.

While the Braves didn’t settle with Fried, their biggest arbitration-eligible name, they agreed to contracts with the others: A.J. Minter, Joe Jiménez, Dennis Santana and Lucas Luetge. Those four Braves joined Mike Soroka and Tyler Matzek, who resolved their situations at the non-tender deadline in November.

MLB Trade Rumors, which projects what players might earn in arbitration, predicted Fried would make $12.2 million in his second year of arbitration. Last season, Fried and the Braves went to an arbitration hearing, where Fried won his case and earned $6,850,000 during a season that ended with him finishing second in National League Cy Young Award voting.

The Braves and Minter agreed to a contract worth $4,287,500 for the coming season. As one of the key members of the bullpen, Minter pitched to a 2.06 ERA over 70 innings in 2022. He struck out 94 batters.

Minter again will be one of the Braves’ top late-inning options, along with Raisel Iglesias and Jiménez.

Jiménez will earn $2,765,000 this year. The Braves acquired Jiménez from the Tigers in a trade that sent Justyn-Henry Malloy, the Braves’ top position-player prospect at the time, to Detroit. With the Braves losing Kenley Jansen, Jiménez will fill a big role as another power righty at the back of the bullpen along with Iglesias, the presumed closer.

Over 56 2/3 innings last season, Jiménez struck out 77 batters for the Tigers. He finished with a 3.49 ERA. By trading for him, the Braves’ bullpen should maintain its standing as one of the sport’s best.

Recently acquired from the Yankees, Luetge will earn $1,550,000 in the coming season. The Braves traded two minor leaguers for Luetge, who gives them another solid lefty.

Over the past two seasons in New York, Luetge posted a 2.71 ERA over 129 2/3 innings. He struck out 138 batters.

The Braves and Santana agreed to a $1 million deal for 2023. Santana, acquired by the Braves in November, has the stuff to be a late-inning reliever at his best. He presents some upside for a club that has shown an ability to unlock potential in its players.

Last season, Santana posted a 5.22 ERA over 58 2/3 innings with the Rangers. But his fielding independent pitching — which is similar to ERA but accounts only for the outcomes a pitcher can control — was 3.35. This means Santana could have been victim to some poor luck or defense.

At the non-tender deadline in November, the Braves and Matzek agreed to a two-year, $3.1 million deal that includes a $5.5 million club option for 2025. He’ll miss all of 2023 after undergoing Tommy John surgery in October.

Soroka also settled with the Braves at the non-tender deadline. He’ll make $2,800,000 in the coming season.

Friday at 1 p.m. ET marked the deadline for arbitration-eligible players and teams to exchange salary figures for the 2023 season. Before this deadline, teams and players could agree on a specific salary to avoid arbitration.

After the sides exchange salary figures, a hearing is scheduled. But teams and players still can come to an agreement before the hearing.

The Braves, however, are known as a “file and trial” club. This means that, unofficially, they view the deadline to exchange salary figures as a hard deadline and will head to a hearing instead of coming to an agreement in the time between the deadline and the hearing. If they wanted, though, they could still settle with a player before the date of the hearing.

If no agreement occurs by the date of the hearing, the case is brought before a panel of arbitrators, who select either the salary figure of the player or of the club — but not a figure in between those.

Fried, Minter, Soroka and Luetge will be free agents after the 2024 season. Jiménez will be a free agent after the coming season. Santana will enter free agency after the 2025 season.

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