Over the last year or so, the Braves have handed out over $500 million in contract extensions, locking up most of their core pieces through at least 2028. It’s a strategy Alex Anthopoulos is clearly fond of, and I don’t think it’s stopping anytime soon. If the Braves believe in what a player can bring to the table long-term, they will aggressively attempt to sign them to a contract extension, locking them in through the prime years of their career.
Here’s who could be up next in that department.
This is the most obvious one, but it might also be the toughest one to complete. Fried has been as consistent as anyone in the majors over the past three seasons and is the Ace of the Braves staff. He’s coming off a year in which he finished second in the NL Cy Young race and will only be 29 next season.
I’m sure Alex Anthopoulos would love to find a way to extend him, but Fried’s not an idiot. He’s watching the market explode like everyone else, and he should know by now the Braves most likely aren’t going to be the highest bidder if he tests free agency. Fried is also a Southern California kid, so there’s no reason to expect a hometown discount. If the Braves want to extend their left-handed Ace, they might need to bust out a bigger checkbook.
Like Fried, Minter also has two years left on his deal, and while he’s a reliever, I imagine the Braves would like to lock him in long-term. After an unbelievable run in back-to-back postseasons (2020-2021), Minter put it all together for a full season in 2022, looking like the guy that was once expected to assume the closing duties a few years ago.
According to FanGraphs, Minter was the fifth-best reliever in all of baseball this year, recording 2.1 WAR. He struck out nearly 35% of the batters he faced and finished the season with a 2.06 ERA and 2.13 FIP. It was flat-out domination from the burly left-hander. Perhaps they would like to see Minter do it twice before handing him a lengthy extension, but they might get a better price if they do it now.
The Braves just gave up a ton to acquire Sean Murphy, who is under contract for the next three seasons, but I would be shocked if Alex Anthopoulos didn’t attempt to sign Murphy for at least a few more years before the start of the season. Murphy’s an All-Star caliber catcher — one of the best in the business defensively, which the Braves value highly. You don’t give up five years of William Contreras and three of your top pitching prospects and not try and aggressively extend Murphy through the remainder of his prime years, especially since the Braves now have no catching depth in their farm system.
Photo: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire
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