The Braves announced they reached a one-year, $3.15 million deal with Fried and a one-year, $1.3 million deal with Minter before salary arbitration figures had to be exchanged prior to Friday’s 1 p.m. ET deadline. That leaves Swanson and Soroka as their only unsigned arbitration-eligible players.
It now looks like Swanson and Soroka will have their respective salaries determined by the results of arbitration hearings that will be conducted via Zoom before the start of Spring Training. A panel of three independent arbitrators will determine whether the salary will be either the player’s request or the team’s offer.
It was once common for teams and players to continue negotiating contracts right up until the day of their arbitration hearings. In recent years, that practice has become less frequent, and if a deal isn’t reached prior to the arbitration submission deadline, it is often assumed the sides will head to arbitration.
Swanson made $3.15 million during the first of his three arbitration-eligible seasons last year. The 26-year-old shortstop hit .274 with 10 home runs and a .809 OPS during the shortened 2020 season. His 110 Adjusted OPS was the best mark he has produced during his four full seasons.
After being rushed to the Majors for the final six weeks of the Braves’ rebuilding 2016 season, Swanson endured some initial growing pains. But he made significant strides defensively in '18 and has since enhanced promise about his offensive potential. His 5.2 fWAR (Fangraphs’ WAR Model) ranks 10th among National League shortstops over the past three seasons.
Soroka’s case will be an interesting one in that he is arbitration-eligible despite having made just 37 career starts. A left shoulder ailment limited him to five starts in 2018 and he tore his right Achilles tendon during his third start of the ‘20 season. Still, he compiled enough service time to gain Super Two status, which provides him an extra year of arbitration.
During what stands as his only injury-free season so far, Soroka did prove to be one of the game’s elite starters. He posted a 2.68 ERA over 29 starts during his rookie season in 2019 and finished sixth in balloting for the NL Cy Young Award.
With Soroka sidelined this past summer, Fried showed he too has the potential to be one of the game’s best pitchers. The lefty posted a 2.25 ERA over 11 starts and won each of his seven decisions. He exited August with a 1.60 ERA, but totaled just 11 innings in September because of a sore back muscle and a sprained left ankle. Still, he finished fifth in balloting for the NL Cy Young Award.
Minter bounced back from a rough 2018 in impressive fashion. The former closer re-established himself as a high-leverage bullpen option while posting an 0.83 ERA in 22 regular-season appearances. But he further enhanced his stock when he served as an opener against the Dodgers in Game 5 of the NL Championship Series. Making his first career start, he recorded seven strikeouts over three scoreless innings.