Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos offers little hope of Max Fried extension at spring training

2024 might be the final year of Max Fried in a Braves uniform.

Sep 29, 2023; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Max Fried (54) talks to
Sep 29, 2023; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Max Fried (54) talks to / Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Braves are known to do things their own way when it comes to building a team. They're not big spenders in free agency, and instead, under Alex Anthopoulos, prefer to take slight risks by signing internal players to extensions rather than pay them on the open market.

While there is undeniably some risk that comes from guaranteeing large amounts of money to players who have barely played in a Braves uniform, the reward is far greater. Just look at Ronald Acuna Jr. His eight-year contract extension signed before the 2019 season has a chance to be one of the greatest contracts in MLB history when it's all said and done.

Virtually the entire Braves core is under team control for the foreseeable future, but one exception is Max Fried who is entering his final year of team control before hitting free agency at the end of the season. For those hoping Fried would sign a last-minute extension to stay in Atlanta long-term during Spring Training, Anthopoulos' comments would suggest that an extension is highly unlikely.

Braves star Max Fried seems destined to hit FA after Alex Anthopoulos' latest comments

“It goes without saying that he is great,” Anthopoulos said. “Any time you have a great player in a free-agent year, it’s going to be a topic. Our goal will always be to keep these guys while also making sure that we're keeping a competitive club around them. That’s the trick, trying to balance it out.”

Anthopoulos' comments come as no surprise with how he's operated as the Braves GM. He makes sure to get his players on favorable terms so he's able to build an outstanding supporting cast around his best players. The highest-paid Brave is Matt Olson who is making $22 million. The Braves have given themselves ultimate flexibility to compete now and in the future because of the contracts Anthopoulos has dolled out.

Fried, being as accomplished as he is, will demand a contract far larger than Anthopoulos is accustomed to giving. It won't be one of the team-friendly variety the other stars have gotten. With that in mind, Braves fans can and probably should expect the worst with Fried.

He's going to remain with the team for this year and hopefully help them win a World Series. Fried's future in Atlanta, however, is murky at best. He'll be one of the best pitchers available, set to make around or perhaps more than $200 million. With what will likely be an overpayment coming his way, it's hard to envision Anthopoulos deviating from what he's always done in Atlanta and doing whatever he can to keep Fried around.

Atlanta will either use what they have internally or attempt to find a cheaper arm to replace Fried. It won't be easy, obviously, but there's little reason to doubt AA after everything he's done in Atlanta.