Braves: Could Sandy Alcantara’s extension be a starting point for Max Fried’s?

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The Marlins may not be ready to compete for championships, but they have no shortage of starting pitchers. Sooner rather than later, people will start referring to their rotation as one of the best in baseball, led by 26-year-old Sandy Alcantara, who just recently signed an extension with the team worth $56 million.

This is a fantastic move by the Marlins. Alcantara has all the makings of an ace — the type of pitcher that can hum it 102 MPH in the 8th inning — and his stats over the last three seasons show that, most recently posting a 3.19 ERA over 205.2 innings in 2021.

Alcantara was scheduled to make $4.5 million if he went to arbitration and was arb-eligible for two more years after that. This deal buys out those three years of arbitration and extends him for two more seasons. It’s the kind of extension that can be beneficial for both the club and the player, and it’s something the Braves should be attempting to complete with Max Fried this offseason.

Fried’s in a very similar position to Alcantara but comes with a slightly better track record. The Braves ace is projected to make $6.5 million if he goes to arbitration for 2022 and is also arb-eligible in 2023 and 2024. There’s no doubt Fried will be more expensive. If he continues at this rate, he’ll earn well north of $10 million in 2023 through arbitration and could cost the Braves around $20 million in 2024.

However, Fried does come with an injury history, so he may feel some comfort in establishing some security. If he happened to suffer one more significant injury over the next three seasons, his market would undoubtedly change significantly. There’s also the case that he might just really enjoy playing for the Braves organization, so locking himself in for an extra few years could sound appealing.

Based on Alcantara’s contract, my guess is that a Fried extension could look something like five years, $65-70 million. If I’m the Braves, that’s something I’m trying to get done sooner rather than later, but if I’m Fried, I could understand why he would want to bet on himself and see if he can sign a mega-contract in a few years once he becomes an unrestricted free agent. Just look at the type of contracts some of these free agent starting pitchers are signing this offseason; if Fried were to hit the open market after three more high-quality seasons, there’s no doubt he would sign a contract well over $100 million.

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