1. Boston Red Sox
The Boston Red Sox are expected to target upgrades to the pitching staff after a disappointing last-place finish in the American League East. Craig Breslow's arrival in the front office promises change and there's a sense of urgency to pair Brayan Bello with a proper ace following Chris Sale's noticeable decline in 2023.
Boston has been floated as a potential landing spot for several juicy free agents, from Blake Snell, to Yoshinobu Yamamoto, or Eduardo Rodriguez. But, don't count out the possibility of solution via trade. Fried could theoretically out-pitch every free agent on the market. It would cost assets to acquire him — not to mention the inevitably pricey contract extension — but he's a relatively young ace, still on the right side of 30. The Red Sox should have interest.
There are other areas for Boston to improve, of course. According to Baseball Savant, the Red Sox collectively accrued the fewest outs above average (-50) on defense last season. Fried managed just fine with a good-not-great Braves defense, but he's a pitcher who tends to keep the ball in play. He posted a 39.2 percent ground ball rate (97th percentile) and a low barrel percentage (3.2, in the 95th percentile) last season. Boston will want a strong infield behind him.
In the end, those are changes Boston should want to make with or without Fried. The defense has to get better, as does the offense. Last season was wholly disappointing for one of baseball's true prestige franchises. Expect drastic action from the front office, with Fried very much on the radar if the Braves decide to trade him before his contract expires.