Atlanta Braves ace Max Fried is unlikely to sign an extension with the team prior to this season. Should Alex Anthopoulos fail to sign Fried now, he could enter free agency next winter and receive a lucrative multliyear contract.
Fried is an excellent pitcher who should thrive as he ages, as he's not someone who relies heavily on his velocity. However, he's also 30 years old and will cost near $200 million, if not more to bring back on a long-term deal. Fried has connections to the California area, where he was raised, leading some to believe he'll sign on the west coast when the time comes.
The Braves can afford to let Fried walk and use that money elsewhere, in part because they already have Spencer Strider, and expect NL Cy Young candidate, atop their rotation. AJ Smith-Shawver and Hurston Waldrep, both top prospects in the Braves system, could also come into their own this season. Bryce Elder is in his mid-20's and made the All-Star team last year despite falling off some in the second half.
Where will Max Fried sign in free agency? Former Braves star fears the worst
While losing Fried is an unfortunate fate the Braves can afford, the team he chooses could come back to haunt them. Jeff Francoeur, who covers the Braves for Bally Sports South, thinks the Los Angeles Dodgers could be in play.
Fried, for his part, hasn't done much to dispel these rumors. Even Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic would be surprised if he stayed.
“Fried, in my opinion, is almost certain to leave as a free agent,” Rosenthal said on Foul Territory. “He’s going to be priced out of where the Braves want to be.”
Fried does have connections on the Dodgers in former Braves teammate Freddie Freeman. Los Angeles is forming a super team of their own. Shohei Ohtani should be able to pitch in 2025, and their rotation could use more reinforcements. That's where Fried comes in if he's open to contract deferrals down the line.