2 Braves players that absolutely deserve contract extensions, 1 to avoid

The Braves have been very good about locking their players up, but there are a couple more guys that deserve it as well.

Oct 9, 2023; Cumberland, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Max Fried (54) pitches during
Oct 9, 2023; Cumberland, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Max Fried (54) pitches during / Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
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Max Fried

Now, we come to the elephant in the room in Max Fried. A potential Fried contract extension has been a hot topic for a while now and with good reason. Since 2020, Max has a pair of top 5 Cy Young finishes, three Gold Gloves, and has put up a 2.66 ERA in 83 starts. Those are big-time numbers no matter how you slice them.

For the moment, the Braves don't have a true starter outside of Spencer Strider on a guaranteed deal beyond next season. Sure, Atlanta is really pushing this "Reynoldo Lopez in the rotation" idea hard right now, but a healthy amount of skepticism should be warranted there. The Braves have a guy in Fried in the organization right now that is a borderline ace and he is a free agent after the 2024 season. How could they possibly let him walk?

There are a couple reasons why an extension hasn't gotten done yet. One, Max is in line to get a LOT of money in free agency and on his end, the idea of at least having other bidders for his services on an open market is likely to put more dollars in his pocket and no one should blame a guy for wanting to get his bag. Second, pitchers are a bit spookier to give big time deals to and at almost 30 years old and with a recent history of arm trouble, exercising caution isn't the worst idea.

In the end, the Braves should really push to extend Fried as he has been just too important to the club's rotation. However, there needs to be a cap to what they are willing to spend on him given his age and the fact that he had elbow issues in 2023 and already has a Tommy John on his ledger. Carlos Rodon's six year, $162 million deal seems like a good place to start a conversation and Max is probably worth a bit more than that. However, if keeping Max in the fold is going to cost significantly more than that, then Atlanta may need to pass and let him hit free agency.

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