Braves pitchers Tyler Matzek and Mike Soroka avoided arbitration by signing Major League deals, while left-handers Max Fried and A.J. Minter were tendered contracts on Friday. The team also non-tendered outfielder Guillermo Heredia and right-handers Silvino Bracho, Alan Rangel, Jackson Stephens and Brooks Wilson.
Matzek signed a two-year deal worth $3.1 million that includes a $5.5 million club option with no buyout. In addition, Matzek will donate one percent of his salary per season to the Atlanta Braves Foundation. The deal was done even though he had Tommy John surgery on Oct. 12.
Matzek has been a valuable reliever since he joined Atlanta’s relief corps in 2020. He finished 4-2 with a 3.50 ERA in 42 appearances in '22, but he did not pitch in the postseason after learning that he needed left elbow surgery.
Matzek owns a 2.92 ERA in three seasons with the Braves. In the 2021 playoffs, he set a franchise record for appearances in a single postseason with 13. His 24 strikeouts are tied for the third most by a reliever in one postseason.
Soroka has a one-year deal worth $2.8 million, the same salary he made the past two seasons. Soroka hasn’t pitched in the Majors since tearing his right Achilles tendon in August 2020. Soroka was the Braves’ best pitcher in '19, going 13-4 with a 2.68 ERA and leading the team in bWAR (5.9) while finishing second in National League Rookie of the Year Award voting and sixth in NL Cy Young Award voting.
Fried and Minter will likely have their respective salaries determined through the arbitration process. Teams and players will swap arbitration figures in January.
Fried had a season to remember in 2022, going 14-7 with a 2.48 ERA en route to finishing second in National League Cy Young Award voting behind Marlins right-hander Sandy Alcantara. Fried also finished second on the Braves behind Austin Riley in Wins Above Replacement (5.9, per Baseball Reference).
Minter had his best season in the big leagues in ‘22, appearing in a season-high 75 games out of the bullpen with a 2.06 ERA. Opponents hit .198 against the left hander.
Heredia played sparingly this past season, hitting .158 with a .562 OPS in 82 plate appearances (74 games). While earning a $1 million salary, he created some value with the energy he brought to the dugout and clubhouse.
Bracho allowed three runs in 4 1/3 innings across three appearances with the Braves in 2022. Rangel was in Atlanta's organization for seven seasons, but he never saw big league action. In 143 Minor League games, Rangel was 32-38 with a 4.47 ERA.
Stephens saw big league action last year, appearing in 39 games with a 3.69 ERA. Wilson spent five years in the Braves' organization, but he underwent Tommy John surgery in April 2022 and didn’t play last season.