The Braves didn’t make any major news – one way or another – around Friday’s 8 p.m. deadline to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players.
It all went as expected, though no one knew what the specifics might entail.
After the deadline passed, the Braves announced they signed right-hander Mike Soroka to a one-year, $2.8 million deal as the sides avoided arbitration. Their announcement came hours after they said they signed left-hander Tyler Matzek to a two-year, $3.1 million deal with a club option (and no buyout) for the 2025 season.
The Braves avoided arbitration with Soroka and Matzek.
As expected, Atlanta tendered contracts to left-hander Max Fried, left-hander A.J. Minter and right-hander Dennis Santana. The club only announced the figures for Soroka and Matzek’s deals, but that doesn’t mean the others are immediately headed to arbitration.
The Braves have until Jan. 13 – the deadline for teams and players to exchange arbitration figures – to settle with Fried, Minter and Santana on their salaries. Friday’s news simply means those three will have contracts for at least the 2023 season.
Atlanta non-tendered outfielder Guillermo Heredia, right-hander Jackson Stephens, right-hander Silvino Bracho, right-hander Alan Rangel and right-hander Brooks Wilson. The Braves re-signed Rangel and Wilson to minor-league deals with invitations to major-league spring training.
The Braves had already designated Heredia, Stephens and Bracho for assignment earlier in the week.
Each year, clubs must decide whether to tender contracts for the upcoming season to players on the 40-man roster with fewer than six years of major-league service time. If players are non-tendered, they become free agents.
As the week progressed, the Braves didn’t appear to have any obvious non-tender candidates among their arbitration-eligible players. The likeliest – if you had to pick one – might have been Matzek, who underwent Tommy John surgery in October and will miss the entire 2023 season. But the Braves gave him security by bringing him back for at least two more years.
Soroka has not pitched in the majors since 2020. He has torn his Achilles tendon twice.
No one knows if Soroka will regain his pre-injury form because no one can predict the future. At the General Managers Meetings in Las Vegas, Braves president of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos mentioned Soroka as one of the pitchers who’ll be competing for the fifth-starter job. (This is, of course, assuming Anthopoulos doesn’t add to his rotation in a major way).
Matzek could be a bargain for the Braves in 2024, when he’ll make $1.9 million. He has the potential to be a late-inning reliever, and they can be expensive on the open market. Matzek’s procedure went well and he hasn’t experienced any setbacks in the early part of his rehab.
Each year, the website MLB Trade Rumors releases projections for arbitration-eligible players’ salaries. The site predicts Fried will earn $12.2 million in his second year of arbitration, while projecting Minter to earn $5 million in his second year of arbitration.
In 2022, the Braves have given major contract extensions to Matt Olson, Austin Riley, Michael Harris and Spencer Strider. Fried is a logical candidate to receive an extension, if he is willing.
“We love Max, but you know me with extensions, you will never hear me say, “Hey, we want to do this, we don’t want to do that,’” Anthopoulos said at the GM meetings. “But I think a very general rule of thumb (is) anyone who’s great – meaning top three in Cy Young (voting, as Fried was) – we want that guy around.”