Alex Anthopoulos is widely regarded as one of the best GMs in the business. He’s a wizard at identifying talent when kids are on the farm, hanging onto it, and then locking them up early at team-friendly rates for a long period of time. There are countless examples, and I think he pulls it off again this year.
This continues my series of 2023 bold predictions for the Braves. If you missed any of the previous parts to this series, follow the links below.
- MVP candidates aplenty
- How many games will the Braves win in 2023?
- Expectations for Spencer Strider in Year 2
Braves ink Kyle Wright to a six-year extension
With Max Fried‘s free agency approaching, Braves fans are anxiously awaiting to see if Alex Anthopoulos can work his magic and ink the ace of the staff to a long-term extension. I would love to sit here and say that happens, but I don’t see it. Fried has established himself as one of the best pitchers in the majors and is too close to free agency to turn back now. As long as he stays healthy over the next two seasons, he’ll be looking at a contract worth around $200 million if he tests the open market, and I think we all know the Braves aren’t going to be the ones to give it to him.
Signing Kyle Wright, on the other hand, feels much more achievable. Given he’s not even a free agent until 2027, it hasn’t been brought up a bunch, but that’s the exact type of player AA tends to target when it comes to these team friendly, long-term extensions.
After some early career struggles, the former #5 overall pick in the 2017 draft broke out in a big way last season, winning 21 games — the first Braves pitcher to win 20 games since Russ Ortiz back in 2003. Wright posted a 3.19 ERA, finishing 10th in the NL Cy Young race.
Stuff has never been the issue for the Vanderbilt product. There’s a reason he was the fifth overall pick in the draft. His repertoire is elite, but the mental makeup of a young pitcher is often more important to success. Wright struggled with that early in his career, but he turned a corner, and he could be even better in 2023.
The Braves will likely want to see a little more from him this season before committing to him long-term, but if Wright continues to trend in the right direction, I think Alex Anthopoulos would like to get out in front of this, buying out his arbitration years and extending him for a couple more. A six-year extension makes sense, taking him through the 2028 season for about $50-60 million. That would be bargain for the Braves, and it would give Wright financial security while also allowing him the to opportunity to cash in on a second contract down the road.
Photographer: Larry Radloff/Icon Sportswire
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