Why Max Fried Won’t Defeat the Atlanta Braves in Arbitration

Atlanta Braves ace pitcher Max Fried and the team will go to arbitration for the second consecutive year. The club offered $13.5 million to the lefty while his camp asked for $15 million.

Fried finished second in Cy Young voting, going 14-7 with a 2.48 ERA for the Braves in 2022. He has been a great source of stability in the rotation for Atlanta the past few years.

Prior to last season, Fried and the Braves disagreed over a much smaller amount of money as the Braves offered $6.6 million while the player wanted $6.85 million. While it may not seem like that much money when I write it like that, that was equivalent to about 10x the per capita income of Evansville, Indiana!

Fried won that battle in 2022.

Will Max Fried Beat the Atlanta Braves in Arbitration in 2023?

While Mad Max defeated the Braves in 2022, this year’s discrepancy is a lot more money. The disagreement went from $250,000 last year to $1,500,000 this season.

If the two sides are unable settle before the hearing, the arbitrator is only permitted to award one side the winner. There will be no in between.

We think Max is well worth the $15 million his group is asking for, but he probably won’t get it.

Why Max Fried Should Lose in Arbitration

Over the past three seasons, Fried is third wins among all qualified starters. Among that same group, he is sixth in walks per nine with just 2.03 allowed.

Fried is the best starting pitcher since 2020 in HR/FB ratio, allowing just 9.1% of his flyballs to leave the park. That’s better than… every other starting pitcher since the beginning of 2020.

To add to the value of his HR/FB ratio, Fried is fourth among starters during that same time span in groundball rate with 51.7% of his batted balls hitting the dirt.

Fried makes hitters put the ball on the ground. When they get it in the air, he is elite at preventing home runs. So, it is no surprise that Fried has a minuscule 0.64 HR/9 IP rate, good for third among all starting pitchers.

At the end of a day, we judge pitchers by how many runs they allow. Max Fried is tied for the second best ERA in all of baseball over the past three seasons with a 2.68 earned run average. It is truly elite company at the top.

  1. Corbin Burnes (2.60 ERA)
  2. Max Fried (2.68 ERA)
  3. Julio Urias (2.68 ERA)
  4. Sandy Alcantara (2.74 ERA)
  5. Zack Wheeler (2.82 ERA)

With all that being said, MLB Trade Rumors has Fried projected to earn just $12.2 million in arbitration this year. A similarly successful pitcher in a similar position is the Dodgers’ Julio Urias (tied with Fried in ERA since 2020).

Urias is entering his final year of arbitration with about a year’s worth more of service time. He was projected to earn $13.7 million but ended up avoiding arbitration by agreeing to a $14.25 million salary.

Fried is worth the $15 million, but I don’t think he is going to get it. What do you think? Will Fried win in arbitration? Will the Braves win?

Will we win by finding out the Braves signed him to a multi-year extension prior to the hearing? Let us know in the comments below!

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