If the Braves don't re-sign Max Fried, these 6 aces could replace him

The Atlanta Braves appear unlikely to sign Max Fried to a contract extension. With that in mind, which potential aces could replace him?

St. Louis Cardinals v Atlanta Braves
St. Louis Cardinals v Atlanta Braves / Matthew Grimes Jr./Atlanta Braves/GettyImages
1 of 4

Max Fried's relationship with the Atlanta Braves front office may be in a positive space, but the CAA client seems unlikely to re-sign long term in the ATL unless they pay a premium price. By testing free agency next winter, Fried will ensure he signs with the highest bidder and lands a contract worthy of his services.

Fried is also coming off an injury-plagued 2023, so neither him nor the organization itself is likely to meet the other halfway. The Braves would prefer a discount, while Fried wants an extension that matches his body of work.

Given some of the contracts handed out to starting pitchers the last few offseasons -- Jordan Montgomery and Blake Snell aside -- waiting until free agency is Fried's best course of action, especially if he can stay off the injured list for long stretches of time in 2024. If he does leave, the Braves have some options to replace him.

6. Stand pat, annoint Spencer Strider as the Braves ace

Spencer Strider has already cemented himself as the best pitcher on Atlanta's staff. The NL Cy Young candidate is among the favorites for the award this season, having finished last year with 20 wins and a 3.86 ERA. Assuming Strider can back up his impressive 2022 and 2023 campaigns with another this year, he offers Atlanta what Fried cannot -- a pitcher they can count on to stay healthy, and is among the league's elite at just 25 years old.

Strider's age and contract status plays a huge role in the Braves choice to let Fried walk. Strider just signed a contract extension in 2023 which ties him to the club until 2029. While Strider will make over $20 million starting in 2026, that's still incredibly affordable given the market rate for starting pitchers of his caliber.

The 2023 NL All-Star and former Rookie of the Year finalist has a deadly pitch arsenal which includes a fastball that can reach triple-digits. He'll get the first and best chance to replace Fried on his own, though he shouldn't be alone. Alex Anthopoulos has work to do.