2 reasons the Braves should consider trading Max Fried and 2 reasons they shouldn't

Max Fried becomes a free agent at the season's end, leaving the Braves at a crossroads. Should they trade him or risk letting him walk?

Atlanta Braves v Boston Red Sox
Atlanta Braves v Boston Red Sox / Maddie Meyer/GettyImages
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Left-handed starting pitcher Max Fried is in his 8th season with the Atlanta Braves. He has a career 68-29 record with a 3.05 ERA and seems to keep improving. Through 78.2 innings of work in 2024, Fried has a 3.20 ERA and has already showcased his stamina by tossing two complete games, one of which was a complete game shutout.

With numbers like this, Atlanta wants to hold on to Max as long as possible. Or would they? Fried is set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. At this point, the team's odds of signing him to a contract extension during the season feel slim. If the Braves worry they cannot retain Max Fried, should they consider trading him? Let's examine a few pros and cons.

Max Fried could bring a big return for the Braves

As previously mentioned, Fried is absolutely dealing right now, and it isn't a fluke. His career numbers show that he is one of the most reliable starters in Major League Baseball. There's no doubt if the Braves put Fried on the trading block, they would get a hefty return for the southpaw hurler.

Hitters struggle to barrel up Max Fried and his statcast profile proves it. He is sitting in the 98th percentile in average exit velocity, 94th percentile in hard hit percentage, and 97th percentile in ground ball rate. This combination is resulting in major success.

Not only would the return for Fried be big-time players, but they could be the answer to Atlanta's struggling offense. With Ronald Acuna Jr. out for the season and the rest of the team underperforming, trading Max Fried could bring a higher-powered offense to Atlanta.

If Atlanta were to trade Max Fried, there's no doubt they would be looking for some offensive help but where would that come from? How about the Chicago Cubs?

Sending Max Fried to the Cubs could help Atlanta strengthen their weaknesses for 2024 while allowing them to plan for the future. According to MLB Pipeline on March 8th, the Cubs have the 2nd best farm system in all of baseball. The Braves could look at adding slugger Cody Bellinger to the outfield and stock up for the future.

Brian Snitker would still also have Chris Sale and Reynaldo Lopez leading the starting rotation, both of which have been sensational thus far in 2024. However, Fried being shipped off would leave a glaring hole in a rotation already struggling to find a reliable fifth starter.

Trading Max Fried could free up money

Max Fried and the Atlanta Braves agreed to a one-year, $15 million deal in January 2024. Given that the contract was only for a year, this could indicate both parties know their time together is drawing to a close.

At season's end, Max Fried will become one of the biggest names on the free agent market. With his performance so far this year, he will be looking for a long and well-deserved contract. His deal would at minimum be around the same as Yankees pitcher Carlos Rodon.

In 2023, Rodon signed a six-year, $162 million contract which is a $27 million AAV. Max Fried is a much better pitcher than Rodon so he could argue he's worth more than that price tag. However, this simply means Rodon's contract is a starting point for Fried and his representation.

To get the money Fried desires, he will likely be looking for a long-term deal as well. The left-hander is currently 30 years of age so anything beyond a 4-year deal may feel a little too uncomfortable for Atlanta. Signing a pitcher to that long of a contract is an extremely difficult decision to make.

With this being the case, don't be surprised if AA saves his checkbook for other names to improve the team after the season expires. If this is his plan, moving Fried could be the smartest decision.

Trading Max Fried could be a massive mistake for the Braves

Max Fried feels like he is meant to be an Atlanta Brave. That is easy to say since he has spent his entire MLB career with the Bravos. He was one of Atlanta's biggest acquisitions during the organizational rebuild. However, with that being said, trading Fried would feel like Atlanta losing a major piece of their franchise and potentially taking a step in the wrong direction.

While trading Max could potentially bring more offense to Atlanta, no one knows how that acquisition would perform after a change of scenery. A pitcher's performance seems to be far more consistent and that is especially the case for Max Fried.

The biggest con of trading Max Fried would be that it would leave a massive hole in the starting rotation. It feels like Max Fried, Chris Sale, and Reynaldo Lopez are the only reason Atlanta is above .500 at this point. With the offense struggling heavily, except for Marcell Ozuna, Atlanta is still finding ways to win baseball games thanks to the top of the rotation.

The Braves can still make some noise

We all remember how the 2021 season ended. Ronald Acuna Jr. was out with an ACL tear, Atlanta revamped their entire outfield at the trade deadline, won the division with just 88 wins, and ultimately brought the World Series trophy home.

To say that history will repeat itself in 2024 may be a little far-fetched. However, believe it or not, Atlanta can still make a playoff run. Although they feel buried in the division at this point, the Braves remain 4.5 games up on the Padres for the top NL Wild Card spot.

If AA decided to trade Max, Atlanta would lose a key piece in a playoff run. A fierce competitor like Fried who can go on short rest can help lead a team to a World Series.

We do not know what the future holds for Max Fried and the Atlanta Braves. However, there may be more to consider regarding Fried's future with the franchise than most people think.

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