Alex Anthopoulos on Max Fried’s future with Braves

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Despite seeing multiple All-Stars ink potentially team-friendly deals, Braves Country remembers the ones that got away the most. Freddie Freeman hurts more than Dansby Swanson, but the fan base is rightfully scarred from the ordeals, which has them worried about what is on the horizon. Atlanta could potentially see another key member of the team walk away in free agency as Max Fried‘s future grows with uncertainty. In an interview with The Athletic, Alex Anthopoulos spoke on the subject.

“I understand, especially in light of, we’ve signed all these other guys to extensions. But he’s still two years away.”

Max Fried isn’t set to test free agency until after the 2024 campaign. Considering Ian Anderson and Mike Soroka didn’t finish the year on the roster, the Braves only have two pitchers — Spencer Strider and Kyle Wright — under contract in 2025, and Anthopoulos knows how important a strong rotation can be.

“To me, the rotation … I’ve said this, and this is a long way of saying we want (Fried) — but I said that about every player, right? — but our two best seasons, during the regular season, were 2019 and 2022. And that coincided with the deepest rotations that we’ve had.”

Max Fried is the leader amongst the starting pitchers; he’s only going to improve with experience, and AA believes he’ll age like fine wine.

“Max is a stud. Second in Cy Young (Award voting), great in the clubhouse, and he’s the type — I’ve told him this, too — he’s going to age well. The reason I say that is because he keeps getting better in terms of, he came up as the curveball, heater, super athlete. He still is (that), but he developed a slider on his own, developed the two-seamer on his own, developed a changeup on his own.”

Still, the Braves don’t need to rush things. Fried is under team control for two more seasons then will likely hit the free agent market and cash in on a big deal, which will likely be the first and last of his career because of his age, as Anthopoulos explained.

“But they’re all very different in the sense of, with some of these other young guys — like, to compare (Max Fried) to Strider, even (though) he’s a pitcher … (Strider) is going to be signed potentially through the age of 30 if we exercise the option, so there’s a second big deal there (after the current one expires). Riley, this was his big deal. Olson, this was his big deal. Dansby, this was his big deal. Max will be 30 in his last year that we have him under control; this will be his big deal. So they’re not the same. Harris will get a second deal. Acuña will get a second deal. Albies will get a second deal. So they’re not the same to just say, “Well, they extended these guys.” … I think with these guys, when it’s their one big deal, there’s just a lot more involved. And the closer guys get to (free agency), it’s more challenging. And at that point, you’re talking free-agent dollars. They’ve established themselves as top-end.”

Sometimes it is difficult for fans to understand the business practices of a professional organization, but I can promise Alex Anthopoulos and the Braves get it right a lot more often than they get it wrong. Max Fried is going to command top-of-the-market money when he tests free agency, and I wouldn’t be so sure the Braves are going to retain him, but it won’t be for a lack of trying. AA and the Braves want him.

David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire

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