2. Los Angeles Angels
The Braves probably won't trade Fried to a National League rival, such as the Phillies or the Los Angeles Dodgers. Why make your primary competition stronger? But, there are several American League teams in need of a boost to their pitching staff. Few more than the Los Angeles Angels.
Shohei Ohtani's future with the franchise is very much in doubt. Even if Ohtani does return, there's a good chance he won't pitch in 2024 as he recovers from a second UCL injury in his elbow. The Angels' current collection of starters includes Reid Demters, Griffin Canning, Chase Silseth, and Patrick Sandoval — 24, 27, 23, and 27 years old, respectively. It's an extremely young group, which does fit the theoretical rebuilding timeline post-Ohtani.
But, if the Angels want to put a half-decent foot forward — especially if Mike Trout sticks around — it could behoove them to add a veteran ace to the roster. Max Fried is an All-Star and a three-time Gold Glove winner who finished second in Cy Young voting in 2022. When he's right, he is on the shortlist of best pitchers in the game. That would drastically improve the Angels' outlook. If Ohtani does come back, then it makes even more sense. He will want to make the playoffs at some point.
It has been a difficult six-year stretch for the Angels since Ohtani was brought on board. Regardless of how free agency plays out, next season has to feel different. Fried is a major step in the right direction, and the caliber of player needed to finally push the Angels toward a postseason berth. There are health concerns after his recent spate of bumps and bruises, but generally, Fried delivers when he's at 100 percent.