June 21, 2024

Although left-hander A.J. Minter, a client of Excel Sports Management, would prefer to stay, he has not heard from the Braves regarding an extension, according to Justin Toscano of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Minter is now one year away from free agency.

Minter answered, “No.” Who, after all, wouldn’t want to play in Atlanta? I think Atlanta is the best baseball organization right now. Of course, I wish I could remain in Atlanta. Who wouldn’t? However, at this point, it’s something that’s somewhat beyond my control. You must, of course, enter here and behave as though this is your last day.

I’m going to come in here and give this organization everything I’ve got, pitch as hard as I can, and go out there and try to win a World Series. I’m going to give the organization the freedom to decide what they wish to do. I only need to go demonstrate my abilities to them outside.

Over the previous four years, Minter, 30, has been a very good reliever in a somewhat modest manner. In that time, he has pitched 208 2/3 innings with an ERA of 2.89. He has walked just 7.8% of the hitters he has faced while striking out 30.7% of them. Additionally, he has kept 40.3% of balls in play off the ground.

He has accomplished this while assuming more pivotal roles, earning 83 holds and 15 saves during that span. In the postseason, he has been an indispensable member of the team, pitching 12 innings throughout their 2021 championship run. The team’s closer is Raisel Iglesias, although Minter is expected to be the best lefty, with Tyler Matzek and Aaron Bummer also being considered.

Recently, Atlanta hasn’t been overly hesitant to spend money on relief pitching. As evidenced by MLBTR’s Contract Tracker, the team has awarded eight-figure contracts to Will Smith, Joe Jiménez, Kenley Jansen, Pierce Johnson, Chris Martin, and Collin McHugh since Alex Anthopoulos took over as head of baseball operations in November 2017.

Reynaldo Lopez is another, though he might end up in the starting lineup this season. Iglesias was also acquired by Atlanta from the Angels, with more than three years left on his four-year $58MM contract.

If Minter pitches well this year, he could be in line for a good deal of his own. In order to avoid arbitration, he agreed to a $6.22 million contract with the team during his final season under club ownership.

The club might offer him a contract, as they did with Jiménez and Johnson, to keep him around. Both of those pitchers were scheduled to become free agents at the end of 2023, but in October, Johnson signed a two-year contract worth $14.25 million, and in early November, the day after the World Series concluded but before free agency officially started, Jiménez signed a three-year contract worth $26 million.

Minter will be signing for the first time in another organization if a deal cannot be reached and he chooses to join in free agency the following winter. After being chosen 75th overall by Atlanta in the 2015 draft, he has been a member of the team ever since.

Kevin D. Liles/Atlanta Braves/Getty Images

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