Atlanta’s Max Fried lost his arbitration hearing against the team, according to Justin Toscano of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The CAA Sports client will be paid $13.5MM for the upcoming season, rather than the $15MM he’d filed for.
Fried’s been a quality starter for a number of years now, but put together his best season yet in 2022, tossing 185 1/3 innings of 2.48 ball. The left-handed Fried walked batters just 4.4% of the time – about half that of the league-average, while striking out batters at a 23.2% clip. That output was worth 5 fWAR, an All Star appearance and a runner-up finish in NL Cy Young voting. Fried also took home a Gold Glove for his defense.
The 29-year-old has been one of the sport’s best starters over the past few seasons. Since 2020, Fried owns a 2.68 ERA over 407 innings (69 starts). However, his brilliant season in 2022 evidently wasn’t enough to sway the case in his favor, and he’ll take home $1.5MM less than he’d argued for in his third season of arbitration eligibility (Fried is a Super Two player). It’s the second straight season Fried and Atlanta have gone to a hearing to determine his salary. Last season he took home a $6.85MM salary after winning his case against Atlanta, who had argued for a salary of $6.6MM – a $250K difference.
At times, the difference in salary can seem rather trivial given the salary being earned, and particularly in this case given Fried’s standing as one of the best pitchers in the game. So it’s worth taking a look at this article from MLBTR from 2015 for a deeper look inside the arbitration process, and why teams haggle over what can sometimes seem like rather insignificant sums of money.
This is Fried’s penultimate year of club control, and barring a long-term extension he’ll go through arbitration once more next winter before hitting free agency after the 2024 season. Of course, given Atlanta’s recent habit of tying up their stars to long-term contracts it certainly wouldn’t surprise to see them make a play at keeping Fried long term, although his output to date and dwindling years of club control would suggest it’d take a significant sum to get a deal done.