3 more Atlanta Braves extension candidates after Travis d’Arnaud contract

Max Fried, Atlanta Braves. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)
Max Fried, Atlanta Braves. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images) /
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Braves, A.J. Smith-Shawver
ATLANTA, GA – JUNE 09: AJ Smith-Shawver #62 of the Atlanta Braves smiles while in the dugout during the game against the Washington Nationals at Truist Park on June 09, 2023 in Atlanta, Georgia. It was Smith-Shawver’s first career start. (Photo by Kevin D. Liles/Atlanta Braves/Getty Images) /

Braves: Extend a top prospect

The Atlanta Braves are not strangers to extensions for minor-league players. In fact, they do it quite often.

If Anthopoulos is smart, he will consider an extension for A.J. Smith-Shawver while he’s relatively affordable. Smith-Shawver has been used as a starting pitcher and relief pitcher so far in the majors with the Braves. He was promoted at just 20 years old, and has since moved into MLB Pipeline list of the top-100 prospects in baseball, representing a huge jump in just one year. Atlanta took a chance on Smith-Shawver for several reasons. First, he was a high-school arm. Second, he hadn’t focused on baseball only at any point in his young athletic career. Clearly, it’s going well, per MLB Pipeline.

"“The 2022 season marked the first time Smith-Shawver focused on baseball (and pitching) full time, so there will be an obvious learning curve. The Braves are optimistic about his ability to harness his stuff and find the strike zone more consistently than he did in his first full season. Of the young high school arms the Braves have selected over the past couple of Drafts, Smith-Shawver might have the highest ceiling.”"

Extending Smith-Shawver long term now — let’s say to a team-friendly seven or eight year contract that also guarantees the young pitcher plenty of money up front — makes sense for both sides. It’s something Anthopoulos has employed previously with Ronald Acuña, Ozzie Albies and Spencer Strider.