Braves’ A.J. Minter: ‘I would love to stay in Atlanta. Who wouldn’t?’

NORTH PORT, Fla. — As spring training begins, one storyline is this: The coming season could be Max Fried’s final one in a Braves uniform. And while Fried’s contract year understandably garners a lot of attention, he is not the only pitcher facing an uncertain future.

A.J. Minter, who has spent his entire career in Atlanta, also is set to become a free agent at season’s end if the Braves do not extend his contract.

On Wednesday, as Braves pitchers and catchers reported to spring training, Minter told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the Braves have never inquired about a long-term extension. Minter is represented by Excel Sports Management.

“No,” Minter told the AJC. “I mean, obviously, who wouldn’t want to play in Atlanta? Atlanta, in my opinion, right now it’s the best organization in baseball. Obviously, I would love to stay in Atlanta. Who wouldn’t? But yeah, that’s something that’s kind of out of my control at the moment.

“Obviously, you’ve gotta come in here and treat it like it’s my last day. I’m gonna come in here and do everything I can for this organization, and pitch to the best of my ability and go out there and try to win a World Series. I’m going to put it into the organization’s hands (in terms of) what they want to do. Just got to go out there and show them what I’m made of.”

Braves president of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos doesn’t publicly discuss these matters. This means two things: It’s always tough to know what has – or has not – transpired with any contract situation, and anything could happen at any time because Anthopoulos moves in silence.

Minter is an integral part of the Braves. In addition to his role as a late-inning reliever, he’s become one of the team’s leaders and is someone who can speak on behalf of the group when reporters are in the clubhouse.

And now, this spring comes with a difficult reality: This might be his last spring training with the Braves.

Year after year, Minter has known he would be in Atlanta. Now, his situation is fluid.

“I think it’s just all about perspective,” he said. “You just gotta keep things in perspective and not put too much extra stress on yourself. Just go out there and really just enjoy being with the guys. We have another chance of doing something special. That’s all we’re focused on and all I’m focused on.”

Anthopoulos has shown he’s willing to pay quality relievers. This offseason, he gave Pierce Johnson a two-year, $14.25 million deal before bringing back Joe Jiménez on a three-year, $26 million contract.

In 2024, Minter will earn $6.22 million, which is almost $2 million more than he made last year. If he turns in a great season, he could receive an average annual value above what he’s making this season. However, the market obviously values closers more than anything, which will factor into Minter’s potential free agency.

The Braves lost Freddie Freeman to the Dodgers and Dansby Swanson to the Cubs. They might be without Fried next year.

But it wouldn’t be surprising to see Minter back for years to come. He’s a valuable reliever, and it seems he’s also a positive part of the clubhouse culture.

Minter, who debuted in 2017, has a 3.35 ERA over 314-1/3 career innings. He has struck out batters at a much higher rate over the past two seasons, and he doesn’t walk many batters. He profiles as the Braves’ setup man once again.


The Braves are reporting to camp coming off a second consecutive early exit. They are motivated and focused.

They have won six consecutive division titles, and they’re considered the favorites to capture another this season. But they want a different ending this time.

In a scrum with a group of reporters, Minter boldly stated the club’s task this spring.

“We hold ourselves to a different standard than most organizations, and that’s what separates us,” Minter said. “I think we need to get everyone coming into spring training like, ‘Hey, this is World Series or bust.’”

As for Minter: His view is that his future in Atlanta – if there is one – is in the club’s hands. He will just go out and pitch.

He clearly is happy with the Braves, who might be the best team in baseball again because of what Anthopoulos has done.

“I mean, how can you get much better? But somehow he did make us better,” Minter said of the job Anthopoulos did this offseason. “And that’s hard to do. Obviously, he takes pride in bringing in good guys in the clubhouse. Just the depth in the bullpen. We thought the depth in the bullpen was great last year – it’s even better this year. Obviously, getting (left fielder Jarred) Kelenic and a new starting pitcher with Chris Sale.

“He’s playing chess, and everyone else is playing checkers. He’s a wizard at what he does, and he just looks at the future, but also stays in the present. We’re set for the long haul.”

Within the next year, we’ll learn whether Minter will be part of that future.