Cuban defector Gerardo Concepcion declared a free agent

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UPDATE: Rojas reports that Concepcion has now officially been declared a free agent, with the Yankees, Rangers, Phillies, Cubs, and White Sox showing the most interest.

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Cuban defector Gerardo Concepcion has established residency in Mexico and the 18-year-old left-hander is close to being declared a free agent by MLB, according to agent Jaime Torres.

Torres told Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes that Concepcion will soon be cleared to negotiate with teams after going 10-3 with a 3.36 ERA to win the Rookie of the Year award in Cuba.

He defected in June when the Cuban team was in the Netherlands for a tournament, with Rojas noting that Aroldis Chapman defected at the same tournament in 2009 before signing a $30 million deal with the Reds.

Last week Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune wrote that Concepcion “is considered a finesse pitcher but has succeeded with his command,” suggesting that he won’t be in line for a huge, Chapman-like deal.

Max Fried loses to Braves in salary arbitration

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Pitcher Max Fried lost to the Atlanta Braves in salary arbitration and will make $13.5 million in the upcoming season instead of his $15 million request.

Mark Burstein, Fredric Horowitz and Jeanne Vonhof issued their decision a day after hearing arguments.

Fried won a $6.85 million salary last year in arbitration instead of the team’s $6.6 million proposal.

He followed former Atlanta teammate Dansby Swanson in going to a hearing in consecutive years. Swanson, a shortstop, lost in 2021 and won last year, then signed a seven-year, $177 million contract with the Chicago Cubs.

The last player to win hearings in consecutive years was pitcher Trevor Bauer against Cleveland in 2018 and 2019.

Fried, a 29-year-old left-hander, went 14-7 for the second straight season and lowered his ERA to 2.48 from 3.04 in 2021. Fried was a first-time All-Star last season, was second to Miami’s Sandy Alcantara in Cy Young Award voting and was third in the National League in ERA behind Alcantara and Julio Urias with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

In 2021, Fried pitched six shutout innings in World Series Game 6 as the Braves won their first title since 1995.