The Atlanta Braves have stretched young stars often but Max Fried is not among them. Has the south door lock window already passed?
Atlanta Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos and the rest of the front office were praised for the organization’s ability to lock in star players in stretches, especially ones that were crucially team-friendly. Whether it’s Ronald Acuna Jr., Austin Riley, Matt Olson, Michael Harris II, Spencer Stryder or even more recently Shaun Murphy, this squad has been a pioneer.
As exceptional of a job as the franchise has done, it’s still not perfect. In the past two seasons, two big stars have hit free agency: Freddie Freeman and Dansby Swanson. And now, they both have contracts elsewhere.
The big key for the Braves was getting into negotiations with the Extensions early. They were experts at identifying future players and signing them to deals prior to free agency. It didn’t happen with Freeman and Swanson, so they weren’t willing to pay any proverbial free agency tax to keep them.
This has some fans worried about the showrunner, Max Fried.
Brave may be too late for the party to work on extending Max Fried
Fried, who will turn 29 at the start of the 2023 season, has two years remaining on his contract before he reaches free agency at the conclusion of the 2024 campaign. The Braves don’t have the southpaw locked down on any kind of stretch and that could be bad news for them in terms of preservation. on their ace in the clouds.
Once again, the key to the Atlanta and Anthopoulos front office was getting those extensions done early, with only two years left on the contract before free agency. By that metric, they’d have passed the time when they were perfectly able to get the deal done.
The other factor in this is that Fried has outperformed for far too long for the Braves to realistically expect him to get a significant discount to stay in Atlanta. He’s been a great player for this team over the past few years, and with what we’ve seen from the start of the pitching market for players much older than 31-year-old Fred, Fred will be when he’s a free agent, and that means a brutal payday awaits the open market.
While the ideal scenario is Fried agreeing to an extension with Atlanta, the most AAV they’ve offered to date in their recent deals is about $21 million a year for Austin Riley and Matt Olson. It would cost Fried much more than that, so it seems unlikely that the two parties would finally pull off a deal.
Does this mean that the Braves are beginning to explore the possibility of trading fried? Is Lefty the first time they’ve really broken the bank to keep a star? we do not know. But given recent history, a Fried team making it to free agency after the 2024 season seems the most likely outcome so far.