Braves rumors: Max Fried truth, Perdomo contract, prospects worth watching

  • Two Braves named to Baseball America's Top 100 prospects list
  • Jose Perdomo lands biggest contract on Day 1 of international signing period
  • Max Fried is likely entering his final season with the Braves

Max Fried, Atlanta Braves
Max Fried, Atlanta Braves / Matthew Grimes Jr./Atlanta Braves/GettyImages
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Braves Rumors: A.J. Smith-Shawver and Hurston Waldrep named top-100 prospects

The Atlanta Braves recently acquired seven-time All-Star Chris Sale to address concerns about the pitching staff. The Braves now have five current or former All-Stars in the starting rotation, although we can quibble with the reputability of that honor for 24-year-old Bryce Elder. For now, the Braves are set.

Looking ahead to next offseason, however, changes are inevitable. Max Fried is in the final year of his contract (more on that shortly) and Charlie Morton is about to retire. Factor in the relatively unproven nature of Elder, and there's reason for Atlanta to invest in another quality starter or two. One might point to the trade market — Dylan Cease, Corbin Burnes, Shane Bieber — but, the Braves also have the chance to promote internal development.

Despite the relative weakness of their current farm system, the Braves have done an excellent job of cultivating homegrown stars during their recent stretch of dominance. Now, Baseball America has two Atlanta pitchers on their list of the top 100 MLB prospects. A.J. Smith-Shawver (No. 42) and Hurston Waldrep (No. 49) are both highly ranked.

Smith-Shawver is on the precipice of his breakthrough with the Braves. He was under consideration to start in the Braves' fateful Game 3 NLDS loss to the Phillies, but the nod went to Elder. In six MLB appearances (five starts) last season, Smith-Shawver posted a 4.26 ERA and 1.105 WHIP, registering 20 strikeouts in 25.1 innings pitched.

Waldrep bounced around the Braves' minor league system in 2023. He made one appearance for Triple-A Gwinnett, going 4.1 innings with five strikeouts and zero earned runs. The Braves' first-round pick in 2023, 21-year-old Waldrep is quickly climbing the ladder.

Both have been floated as potential trade chips as the Braves poke around Dylan Cease in Chicago, but perhaps Atlanta's next star pitcher will come from inside the organization.