The Braves have watched All-Stars depart in back-to-back offseasons. Freddie Freeman joined the Dodgers last year, and Dansby Swanson inked a lucrative contract with the Cubs this winter. Understandably, it raises concern when talking about the next All-Star that could potentially test free agency following the 2024 season — Max Fried.
Over the last three seasons, Fried has blossomed into one of the best pitchers in baseball, finishing second in the NL Cy Young race in 2022. Many believe he is currently the best left-handed pitcher on the planet, and he couldn’t have picked a better time to break out. The starting pitching market has gone crazy, with numerous players eclipsing the $200 million mark, which Fried could as well if he tests free agency.
Like most fans, I’m pessimistic about the Braves re-signing the ace of their staff. If money is what Fried is after, he’s not going to find that in Atlanta. They’ve made that clear over the past two offseasons. However, Fried told the AJC’s Justin Toscano something that should make fans feel at least slightly hopeful about the possibility of him remaining in Atlanta long-term.
Max Fried when asked if he'd be open to an extension:
“Me and the team have always had really good dialogue. We’ve been able to have some good communication. I’ve really loved my time here and I love the team. If that comes to the table, then that’ll be something we think about.”
— Justin Toscano (@JustinCToscano) February 17, 2023
At the very least, these comments eliminate the assumed animosity between the team and Fried stemming from their recent arbitration hearing. As I say each season, that isn’t something to worry about; it’s simply the standard procedure.
However, this statement from Fried doesn’t change my view on what I feel will happen in a couple of years. Unless the Braves open up their checkbook in a big way soon, he’ll likely test free agency. If that happens, the writing is on the wall. The Braves have shown a willingness to spend more in recent years, but they still place an emphasis on value, which is almost impossible to find when All-Stars test the open market. I’m preparing for Fried’s exit in two years, so let’s enjoy his greatness while we still can.
Photo: Jeff Robinson/Icon Sportswire
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