The Braves and Max Fried agreed to a $15MM contract to avoid arbitration, reports Robert Murray of FanSided (X link). That’ll avoid a hearing in his final year going through the process. Fried is represented by CAA Sports.
Fried, who turns 30 next week, put up a 2.55 ERA in 2023. He made 14 starts spanning 77 2/3 innings, enduring a three-month absence for a forearm strain. The abbreviated season resulted in a $1.5MM raise for the lefty.
This represents Fried’s fourth and final time through arbitration, as he achieved Super Two status after the 2020 season. He reached an agreement with the Braves for ’21, won a hearing against them for ’22, and lost a hearing against the club for ’23. Fried had submitted a $15MM figure at his hearing nearly a year ago, but the arbitration panel instead chose the team’s $13.5MM figure. So now in 2024, he will earn the amount he was hoping to earn in ’23.
Justin Toscano of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported in December that the Braves discussed an extension with Fried’s agency prior to the ’23 season. Braves president of baseball operations and general manager Alex Anthopoulos has given out 18 extensions since being hired in November 2017, according to our MLB Contract Tracker. His longest deal for a pitcher was Spencer Strider’s six-year pact, though Strider had one year of MLB service at the time. Otherwise he hasn’t given a multiyear deal to any starting pitcher, if you don’t count Reynaldo Lopez as one. Though they’ve signed many players to extensions, the Braves did ultimately let Freddie Freeman and Dansby Swanson leave as free agents, as noted by Toscano.
Fried is a special case, given a run of success for the Braves that has included Cy Young votes in the 2020 and ’22 seasons as well as the clinching win in Game 6 of the 2021 World Series. Starting pitchers who signed deals worth $100MM+ with five years of service in the last decade include Clayton Kershaw, Homer Bailey, Stephen Strasburg, Jose Berrios, Joe Musgrove, and Luis Castillo. After back to back years of arbitration hearings, perhaps Fried reaching an agreement for ’24 can be viewed as a mild positive in his relationship with the team.
If he reaches the open market, Fried would be one of many interesting starting pitchers in the 2024-25 class. You can check that out here.