Braves lefty Max Fried won his arbitration hearing against the Braves and will be paid a $6.85MM salary for the current season rather than the $6.6MM sum submitted by the team, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports (Twitter link).
Fried, the No. 7 overall pick by the Padres in 2012 who came to the Braves by way of the 2014 Justin Upton trade, has emerged as Atlanta’s most consistent starter in recent years. The 28-year-old broke out with a huge 11-start showing during the shortened 2020 season and built upon that success in 2021, pitching to a 3.04 ERA with a solid 23.7% strikeout rate, an excellent 6.1% walk rate and a strong 51.8% ground-ball rate — all while tying his career-high in innings pitched (165 2/3).
That success has carried over into the 2022 campaign as he’s posted nearly identical numbers — 2.77 ERA, 23.7% strikeout rate, 4.3% walk rate, 51.6% grounder rate — although this year’s consistency wasn’t a factor in the hearing. Despite being conducted during the ongoing season, arbitration hearings were based solely on prior statistical performance, as is the case in a typical offseason when they’re conducted in February. (That was not possible this winter, given the league-implemented 99-day lockout.) Players with unresolved cases have been paid at the team-submitted figure prior to hearings. Now that he’s won his hearing, Fried will be credited with retroactive pay to make up the difference to this point, and he’ll be paid at the new rate moving forward.
This is Fried’s second time through the arbitration process, and he’ll be eligible twice more by virtue of his standing as a Super Two player. He’s controllable by the Braves through the 2024 season — barring a long-term contract extension.
The $250K gap between the figures submitted by the team and player will strike most fans as trivial, and while that’s largely true, both parties have reason to take a hard stance. Any arbitration ruling becomes a data point for future arbitration negotiations among all 30 teams — arbitration is based on precedent among statistical comparables — so making even small concessions has a compounding impact over time. (MLBTR chatted with several general managers, assistant GMs and other front office execs about the system and going to trial over at-times trivial sums a few years back, for those who’d like to read more on the matter.) For Fried, he’ll now earn at a higher rate this season, and his subsequent raises over the next two seasons will now be built upon a slightly larger baseline.
With both Fried and Marlins catcher Jacob Stallings now seeing their pending arbitration cases resolved — Stallings recently lost a hearing against the Marlins — Yankees superstar Aaron Judge is the last remaining case to be settled. His hearing is reportedly set to take place on Friday.