2. Make sure Max Fried does not go to free agency in the midst of his prime
With two years left of potential arbitration for him, why not secure Max Fried for the long-term? The 28-year-old right-hander has emerged as the Braves’ ace over the last three seasons. The native Angeleno who grew up idolizing Sandy Koufax and Clayton Kershaw has become the Braves’ latest version of Greg Maddux or Tom Glavine. Getting out ahead of this serves Atlanta.
Fried does not hit unrestricted free agency until 2025. At that point of his career, he will have just turned 31 years old. He may be a multi-time All-Star and a possible multi-time World Series champion by then. As long as he stays healthy, Fried is only going to get more expensive as one of the best left-handed starting pitchers in the game. Do the Braves even want to temp fate here?
Fried may have been drafted by the San Diego Padres out of high school, but he has only worn a Braves uniform at the big-league level. Given that Atlanta’s championship window is wide-open, due in large part to what Fried can do on the mound, how can the Braves let its best starting pitcher since the Smoltz-Maddux-Glavine era hit the open market? An extension feels so obvious.
Extending pitchers long-term is always dangerous, but Fried feels like an incredibly safe bet here.